I’ve had a longtime fascination and curiosity about the vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve in our body. So, I recently read two books on the VN and WOW!..... I’m astounded at how this nerve rules our body. AND I also found that yoga plays a key component in keeping this nerve toned because of the amount of breath work we do for our nervous system.
Viva Las Vagus
The vagus nerve is like hitting the jackpot in our body. It starts at the brain and weaves its way down and throughout the torso, sending signals through the cells to all of our organs: lungs, heart, gall bladder, liver, pancreas, kidneys and down into the gut and the digestive organs.
This nerve is connected to a lot of our inner “stuff” including physical, emotional, and social. Just as we keep our muscles and body toned, we also need to tone our vagus.
28 years ago today (Jan. 17, 1991) I performed in The Last Supper At Uncle Tom’s Cabin a very controversial dance choreographed by Bill T. Jones. It was on the eve of the first Gulf War. Bill’s company performed at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vermont, the first stop on a national US tour. The dance title came from his partner, Arnie Zane’s favorite painting and Bill’s favorite book. When Arnie was dying of AIDS in 1988, Bill and Arnie fantasized a “what if” dance. As the story goes, Bill said to Arnie: “What if we combine our two favorite works of art into a dance performance. Well, Bill kept his promise to Arnie after he passed and created this evening length work that tackled social issues such as: justice, racism, homophobia, repression and faith. After 4-5 hours of rehearsing every night for two solid weeks, local dancers would join Bill’s company to perform in the last of 4 acts called “The Promised Land.” The Last Supper...was made into a documentary and goes down in history as one of the most treasured modern dances of our time. I have the performance poster framed on my living room wall (see above) and just now as I walked past it, I heard it say: “Pssst, remember me?"
Take a moment this Monday to reflect on your "Promised Land" as we celebrate a great leader... MLK.
I'm writing from Portland, OR after driving 8 days from Baltimore (with overnight stops in Toledo, OH; Walnut, IA; Boulder, CO; Jackson Hole, WY; and Baker City, OR). Staying for a week with my daughter Talia, then heading to San Diego to visit my other daughter, Stacey.
The roads leading from Baltimore to Portland, OR are quite spectacular and one of the reasons for driving cross country was to not only to visit my two daughters in Portland and San Diego but to visit other yoga studios along the way. Well, I could go on and on about my travels, but don't want to diverge from the purpose of this newsletter. I am still remotely working from the road (yeah technology!) and we have a bunch of exciting new classes, workshops and trainings planned in the next few coming months at YOY.
Food is one area of my life that I try to bring more mindfulness to. I remember growing up with a lot of rules around the family dinner table. My brother couldn't wear his baseball cap to the table; our hair had to be combed; we couldn't answer the phone or bring anything to the table except our appetites. Family dinner was a sacred time that I didn't appreciate until I grew up and had a family of my own.
Throughout history and with people of many cultures, taking pause before eating is an expression of gratitude for the nourishment the plants and animals give us. When we bring attention to what we put into our mouths, it helps to nourish our body and soul to honor the life-giving sustenance of the meal we are about to receive.
Ketul (my first yoga teacher in 1987) taught his students to chew slowly and mindfully, to feel the texture of the food as it entered your mouth. Don't read newspapers or magazines while you eat so you can fully appreciate what you are eating, enjoy the flavor and to feel the energy of the food as it slides down into your belly. He believed that eating food is another form of yoga.
The food is brahma (creative energy). Its essence is vishnu (preservative energy). The eater is shiva (destructive energy). No sickness due to food can come to one who eats with this knowledge.
- Sanskrit blessing
We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.- Buddhist Meal Gatha
n this plate of food, I see the entire universe supporting my existence.
- Zen blessing from Thich Nhat Hanh
This food is the gift of the whole universe - the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed. May we take only foods that nourish and prevent illness. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of our practice.- Thich Nhat Hanh's meal chant
Om, beloved mother nature, you are here on our table as food. You are endlessly bountiful, benefactress of all. Grant us
health and strength, wisdom and dispassion, and help us share this with one and all.- Hindu mealtime prayer
Let us be together; let us eat together. Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life. Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.
- The Upanishads
How do you react when you see signs of neglect, disinterest, disregard for the health and well-being of the earth and other beings? Do you get stuck in a sense of helplessness or rage? Do you think we're all screwed anyway and decide no effort to make things better is worth it? Are you moved to political action? Are you moved to take better care of self, family, and friends, even if you think you cannot make much of a greater impact beyond your intimate circle? Can you remain engaged and still find joy, whatever the apparent immediate results and how hard the battle seems to be?
The Bhagavad Gita, says that to live a life of yoga, we must do the last of these. The first teaching from the Bhagavad Gita on this point is that we must live in accordance with our dharma (duty). The second teaching, and more important for having peace of mind in a life of duty, is that of "actionless action." The true yoga is to live a life of action in accordance with dharma, but without attachment to the outcome (i.e., live in an orderly way and accepting the tendency of the universe to be chaotic). We make a difference on an individual basis.
Recently, I've been moved to bring attention to the natural elements: earth, air, and water through choreography. My latest inspiration is Sylvia Earle a.k.a "Her Deepness." Ms. Earle was the first to walk on the bottom of the ocean below 1500 feet in the 1970's and has dedicated her life to the health of the ocean. Watch her award winning TedTalk here.
INTRODUCING .....drum roll please...................................
Our freshly minted YOY teacher training graduates from the 2017-18 program. What a privilege it was to work with this amazing (and fun) group of humans. Watch a testimonial about the training here.
YOYTT Final Weekend Mar. 30-31 at Kelly and Eddie's Farmhouse in Glenn Arm, MD.
Healing Arts of Asia
I am co-curating a wonderful exhibit at the Asian Arts Gallery, Towson University running through May 19 called Asia's Healing Arts. The exhibit exploresyoga, taiji, acupuncture (with our own Heather Johnstone), shiatsu, Chinese medicine, and Ayurveda and covers the histories and philosophies of these traditions as well as their unique features, commonalities, global journeys, and how they transform lives. I'll be leading a 2pm Yoga Nidra workshop on April 16th at the Gallery and it's open to the public. More information.
Please remember to "refuse the straw" and stay bendy!
January 28, 2018
My goal for this newsletter was mid-February around the time that we celebrate love in our hearts. I thought this quote by Courtney Walsh was a perfect reminder that we are not perfect.
So, let your life and yoga be one in the same: It's a practice.
Congratulations to our 8 newly minted & certified yoga teachers who just graduated from YOY's program February 5, 2017.
These words remind us to gain our rightful place in the world through right action so we don't allow ourselves to "degenerate" but instead "rise to the majestic heights...." Yep, spoken like a true Yogi even though he probably never ever stepped onto a yoga mat.
December 30, 2016
Samskaras and Sankalpas
Take Mick Jagger, for example. He does aerial yoga as a way of keeping himself bendy. Read article. In a nutshell, yoga is about observing ourselves in action. When we can be mindful of our actions, then we are practicing yoga. I know people who have never practiced yoga in their life, but they are the most yogic people I know. So, it's not really about how much time you spend on the mat, but more about the quality of time you spend with yourself and others.
Raise your voice and join CHANT4CHANGE, an event taking place on October 8th, 2016 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
You'll have an opportunity to raise your voice and join thousands across the spiritual, political, social and cultural spectrum to come together to rise up and be heard as ONE VOICE and help change our world. Be a part of history!
Some of the headliners are some of the biggest movers and shakers in the yoga/spiritual world today. Musicians and musical groups such as Jai Uttal, Sweet Honey In The Rock, MC Yogi, David Newman, and much more. They're expecting thousands! This is a free event. Here's the Chant4Change website.
I love hearing about the different ways people are bringing positive change into
the world, especially when it come to our schools. Here's an inspiring story about a Baltimore school using meditation instead of detention. Read here:
Quote for October: "Kindness is the language in which
Happy Fall and PLEASE! don't forget to stay bendy!! Jayne
I'm preparing for two yoga trainings in October with my teacher, Yogarupa (Rod Stryker), founder of ParaYoga. I usually don't do two of these 40 hour trainings back to back due to intensity, but because they are in Colorado, it makes sense to stay on and do the second training a few days later. Plus, these trainings only come around every few years, so I'd have to wait until 2019 before Guru Parampara comes around again. Guru what? (you may be asking......I asked myself the same thing).
Guru Parampara is the culmination of his nine master trainings. "It is an intensive training focused on growing power and authority as a teacher and awakening the lineage of the Himalayan sages." (quote from parayoga.com)
When I opened Yoga On York in 2010, I had been practicing for 25 years but yoga is a 5,000 year old system of health and well being, and knew I was only scratching the surface. When I found Yogarupa on a weekend retreat (Sept. 2011) at the Omega Institute in NY, I knew I had struck gold! His depth of knowledge around the asanas (postures), pranayama (breath work), subtle body work (chakras) and meditation techniques had a profound effect on my practice. It motivated me to dig deeper into these things called our body, our mind and our spirit so that I could bring quality teachings to YOY.
Balance in yoga can be challenging, but try it on a paddle board, and it's the ultimate challenge!
We had a blast doing paddle board yoga class last month (August 21st). Hope we to offer it again next summer. Keep a watchful eye in our newsletter
Tot to Teens Yoga Teacher Training
Nov. 4-6, 2016
Designed for anyone who would like to share yoga with children and adolescents. This interactive, playful and hands-on weekend will prepare participants to share yoga with the next generation of yogis. Open to yoga taechers as well as yoga students, and those who work with children....grade school teachers, P.E. teachers, school counselors, child psychologists, pediatritions, camp counselors/directors, OTs/PTs, and anyone else who works with children are welcome!
Want to add a little adventure to your practice? YOY is teaming up with FloYo on Sunday, Aug. 21st at 8am to take your practice out of the studio and on to the water!
Maybe you've seen photos of people paddle boarding and doing yoga? Well, now's your chance to give it a try! There are only 12 spots so space is very limited!
Who's going to join me? I've never done this before, either, so we're bound for a few good dunks (and laughs!)
Here's the description:
FloYo is stand up paddle board yoga and your instructor will guide you through a 90 minute journey on Bear Creek, just outside of Baltimore City. Class will start with an on-land introduction to stand up paddle boarding and the equipment being used. You will then hop on board for a tour of Bear Creek which will take you to a quiet cove nestled in front of Sparrows Point Country Club. Once there you will anchor your board and be guided through a 60 minute FloYo class in which you will engage your core and challenge your balance as you flow through a series of SUP yoga poses. The experience will end with a paddle back to B'More SUP! No prior paddle board or SUP yoga experience necessary, we will teach you everything you need to know!
STUDIO CLOSED AUGUST 1-3
Reminder that YOY will be closed for 3 days next week (Aug. 1-3) to protect your ears from the sound of the sander and your nose from the smell of varnish that wafts upstairs during the bowling alley's annual resurfacing of their lanes downstairs. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Emily Rossell and Michael Graham's Ecstatic Kirtan concert
View here for a little glimpse of the Ecstatic Kirtan concert at YOY last Friday. Emily and Michael's music are the results of their time traveling through India. Their music is a joyful and spirited celebration of Being and my heart was so full when I walked out of the studio.
Our First Yoga Camp at YOY was a HUGE success !
Just look at their big grins! And a Huge THANK YOU to Lisa and Christina for their amazing pedagogical skills with these young yogis, shaping their consciousness, one breath at a time .
Studio News & Reminders
* * * New * * *
Aerial Yoga added to Monday's schedule with Nancy Jeffreys (some experienced recommended) Monday 7:30 - 8:45pm. Drop-ins welcome but please pre-register in advance.
Sunday, August 21st, 3-4pm
What about you? Interested in teaching Yoga? Come to our open house and meet and greet with Jayne Bernasconi. Ask questions and get answers about what it takes to become a yoga teacher. Bring a friend, too. Our next 7 month 200 hour program begins September 9, 2016 and runs through
March 5, 2016.
Yoga On York is a Yoga Alliance approved school.
July 12, 2016
WOW! 2 Teacher Trainings In 2 Weeks!
June 20, 2016
YOY stands strong to unite with our LGBTQ community, both locally and beyond. In light of the tragedy in Orlando, YOY will host a benefit class on Sunday, June 19th from 5-6:15pm instead of our regular community yoga class. All donations will go to Equality Florida Action, Inc. a fundraiser for the Orlando victims. We come together as a community and as a country to unite our hearts during this difficult time. We must stand strong for ALL human beings, regardless of race, gender or sexual preference. If you can not attend, please consider a donation.
June 14, 2016
Take Me On Vacation With You!Did you know that I love to travel and I'm available to go on summer vacation with you? Yep, I'm just a mouse click away if you have Wi-Fi. I've posted 8 different classes on our website under "Practice online". Each video has it's own trailer (just like the movies!) so that you can get a glimpse of what the class looks like and what kind of a practice it is. Some are even filmed on a beautiful lake in Vermont (last summer) for a peaceful and calming practice.Also, the mantra that I chant at the end of class (Maha Mitrunjaha Mantra) is now posted on our website (Practice Online) if you'd like to chant it with me. Here's the link.
April 25, 2016
April 14, 2016
March 17, 2016
February 14, 2016
December 7, 2015
Did you know that six of the top 20 books on Amazon are adult coloring books? Did you know that when you color you unlock your creative potential?! Perhaps more important, it helps relieve tension and anxiety. Coloring unlocks memories of childhood and simpler times. As psychologist Antoni Martínez explains: "I recommend it as a relaxation technique. We can use it to enter a more creative, freer state.
The Anneslie/Stoneleigh neighborhood shopping district (6700 - 6800 York Road) is having an open house December 10th from 3-7pm to celebrate the holiday season and to recognize and support local small business. Santa is stopping by the shops, too! At YOY, we'd like to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone in the community by offering *15% off all gift certificates including our annual membership. You'll have an opportunity (both kids and adults) to color a beautiful mandala (see below). And here's the breakdown of the discounts offered ONLY during our open house:
5 class card = $70, 15% off =$59.50
10 class card = 120, 15% off = $102.
20 class card = $200, 15% off = $170
Annual Membership = $799,15% off = $640
*(Stiff Guys or $30/30 days not included)
November 9, 2015
Yoga Nidra and Your Brain (The Science Behind Sleep Yoga)
STOP what you are doing and take three DEEP breaths.
Now, take a moment to ponder the word "consciousness."
What is consciousness?..............................Consciousness is mind................
...............................Mind Is Consciousness...........................................
In general, we typically think of consciousness as our mind. And our mind as consciousness. And..... our minds are either awake or asleep, right?
When you're awake, you have your conscious mind and you also have your unconscious mind. But, it is your unconscious mind that guides your
conscious mind to determine what we think. Let me repeat that: It is your unconscious mind that guides your conscious mind to determine what we think.
Contrary to popular belief, our minds do not shut off when we go to sleep; our minds stay on, we just move into our unconscious minds. As we are sleeping, our brains are still firing, which means our consciousness is still moving.
And that movement in our mind has five different patterns of electrical currents or "brain waves" that they move through in any given day. These five brain waves are (from highest to lowest frequency): gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
Each of these 5 types of electrical patterns serves a purpose as to how we cope with various situations - whether it is to help us process and learn new information or to help us calm down after a long stressful day.
If your mind has disturbances, you will probably have disturbed sleep. But, no matter if you're awake or asleep, your mind never stop moving, it's always in motion. Let me repeat: YOUR MIND IS ALWAYS IN MOTION. Now do you understand why you might feel so exhausted some days? Our minds never rest!! Our body rests, though. But our mind governs our body and our brain (or mind or consciousness) tells our body what to do.
While you are fast asleep and dreaming, think about how much motion your mind has going on inside your head. Some mornings you may wake up and feel like you haven't slept at all. Well, that's because your dreaming (unconscious) mind has been actively trying to process all of your "stuff" that you didn't get a chance to process in your conscious waking mind.
Especially during R.E.M. or rapid eye movement. Your brain (and eyes) are rapidly moving as it tries to keep up with all of your "unprocessed stuff." When we're dreaming and in REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are in our theta brain, the most active state of (un)conciousness as we sleep.
Just like when we encounter stress, our minds become alert and our adrenalin starts pumping strong. Our brain is working in an alpha or beta state and our brain waves are maximizing electrical currents and activity. One the other hand, when you are in a very relaxed state, your brain waves are at their slowest - barely firing at all, which is known as the delta stage.
So what does this all have to do with Yoga Nidra?
When we are able to slow the patterns of our mind we enter the delta brain, the slowest and most restorative way of being in our conscious mind. And this is where the natural healing in our body can begin. This is a profoundly deep and restorative place where we can go in our mind to help build our immune system, and begin to rejuvenate, regenerate, revive, and reinforce peace and harmony that is our natural state of being. Yoga Nidra stops the movement of our mind. It's as if you said to your mind: "Come here, sit down and take a load off! Ahhhhh. Doesn't that sound wonderful?
This delta phase of sleep is when we are not dreaming so our minds are at their most restful state. But, on an average night we only get about 20 - 30 minutes of this deep restorative (delta brain wave) rest. The practice of Yoga Nidra is to bring our consciousness to it's lowest frequency and keep it there for about 20-30 minutes or longer through guided focus, awareness and visual imaging in your body. Science has proven that 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is like taking a 2 hour nap. The ancient Yogi's practiced Yoga Nidra every day and were completely rested on less than 4 hours of sleep each night. Some even argue that Yoga Nidra is just as beneficial to the body as meditation is to the mind.
My teacher, Yogarupa, Rod Stryker, says that we need to practice both meditation and yoga nidra daily. They are similar yet different. With meditation you are concentrating and with yoga nidra you are just experiencing it without trying to concentrate.
On Sunday, November 29th, I am offering a special workshop on Yoga Nidra and Meditation to honor your health and well-being.
HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY YOY !
August 19th, 2015
I'd like to share part of a letter that I received recently from my teacher, Yogarupa (Rod Stryker). This year marks his 35th year of teaching yoga:
I think that in fifty or one hundred years, individual writers will look back on this era and someone will want to write a story about the explosion of yoga. How it went from seeming obscurity in the 1960s and early 1970s and became ubiquitous. It will be a story about its popularity growing from a few thousand hippies to millions and millions of people. And not long after that story is written, it will fall into oblivion like most of yesterday's news. The fact is that it isn't a story. Yoga, the one that you and I have come to know and love, is not one story about 18 million, or 30 million people who practice it, it's actually 18, or 20, or 30 million different stories. - Yogarupa
So now I'd like to ask you: What's your story? What inspires you to practice yoga? Please reply to this email with a paragraph or a page describing why you practice yoga." My hope is to maybe pass your story on in a future newsletter this Fall or Winter (anonymously or with your name attached to the story).
YOY Teacher Highlight
Tanya has a master's degree in psychology and has been teaching yoga since 2008 and at Yoga on York since it opened in 2010. Tanya uses her experiences as both yoga teacher and therapist to create a welcoming environment and views her own practice as the best gift she can give herself enhancing her mind, body and soul. She especially loves the positive effect yoga has on mood and the way it makes you feel both energized and relaxed and believes that practicing yoga can provide similar benefits for everyone. Her intention is to create a welcoming environment for each student to nurture their evolving practice. When she is not teaching you can find Tanya hanging out with her loving husband and three active children. She is grateful to be teaching what she loves! You can find Tanya teaching Gentle/Beginner Yoga at YOY on Monday evenings at 6pm.
June 30, 2015
By now I'm sure you've heard that meditation is good for reducing anxiety and stress but Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard is one of the first scientists to actually put this claim to the test. She is doing some great research on meditation at Mass General using MRI technology to scan the brain.
June 16, 2015
June 1, 2015
May 8, 2015
My mother's name was Carole Jane and I am Jayne Carole (the spelling was changed because she liked the way Jayne Mansfield spelled her name). Carole grew up in Barre, Vermont and never lived anywhere else. She was very rooted in this small Vermont town and two very important things she taught me was:
1). Everything that happens, happens for a reason...even though we can't always explain it.
2) Always root for the underdog.
Friday, May 1st Baltimore's 10 mile Protest March, I marched to root for the underdog.
Sri Vidya, the yoga tradition I am initiated into, tells us that we are indebted to three things in our lifetime:
1. Our parents
2. Our ancestors
3. The Earth
Please honor your mother this Sunday, whether she is with you on earth or in spirit. If she is in spirit, light a candle and remember all of the wonderful attributes she gave to you.
Here's to you, Mom, and all the Mom's out there who have given us so much strength and encouragement!
Say Hello To Amy!
Amy Jessup is our new part-time evening manager at YOY. Amy also works at Everyman Theatre in downtown Baltimore. If you need a recommendation on what's happening on stage, ask Amy.
"I enjoy the Eastern tradition of Shinrin-yoku, or 'Forest Bathing'. Taking a long walk through my favorite park helps clear the cobwebs and remind me of my journey. There is such a meditative and healing quality to being surrounded by the woods. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in all the business of a city and forget how much peace and quiet can be found when surrounded by nature!"
She also writes that "Mother's Day and Memorial Day happen so close together that it prompts me to pause and feel gratitude for those who have sacrificed so much for those they love".
April 18, 2015
My teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, says that "Nature is supremely elegant. It doesn't waste energy and it's very efficient." Yoga teaches us that we are a part of the earth. What we do to our body we do to the earth. Our bones are the rocks; our breath is the wind; our tears and blood are the rivers and oceans; our passion is the fire.
Please take a moment to still your mind this Wednesday, April 22 to ground and connect yourself to mother nature. Contemplate all that the earth has given and continues to give you each and every day. Those old hands (pictured above) are filled with dirt and love.
By Jane Yolen
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.
And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here
That's why we
Celebrate this day.
That's why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
March 27, 2015
Sometimes I'm amazed at what's just hanging around in our kitchen cabinets, waiting for us to discover their incredible healing properties. Lately, I've been on a turmeric kick and every morning I start the day off with a warm lemon & honey turmeric drink. (See recipe at bottom of this newsletter).
Turmeric is a widely used medicinal herb used for thousands of years. Of more than 7,000 studies testing its effectiveness and safety, very few report any side effects whatsoever. Although, inherent dangers do exist for certain people (such as allergies), the vast majority of research findings are on the turmeric health benefits and it's healing properties. Some of the health conditions that turmeric has been shown to help with are:
February 17, 2015
DID YOU KNOW?
January 27, 2015
Where did January go? Seems like we were just ringing in the New Year and it's already the end of January! Well, I know exactly where mine went. It quietly began at the Himalayan Institute for a New Year's Retreat (Dec 31 -Jan 4th) with my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker. Then, (Jan 4 - 8th) was a 5 day aerial yoga teacher training. Next, (Jan 9 - 11th) was the first weekend of a new 8 month 200 hour teacher training group at YOY. And finally, (Jan 13 - 22, and perhaps the most intensive 10 day time warp I've ever experienced), I ventured into a 10 day written test for my ParaYoga Master Training exam to become a certified ParaYogi. Phew, I can finally come up for air!
One of the first things we learn as yoga teachers is about the 8-fold path (or 8 limbs) of Yoga. The first limb is called Ahimsa or truthfulness. I recently came across this poem and believe it aligns with this first limb:
"Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope -
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower;
Nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of self-righteousness ...
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of 'Everything is gonna be all right;
But a very different, sometimes very lonely place,
the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition;
The place of resistance and defiance;
The piece of ground from which you see the world;
Both as it is and as it could be, as it might be,
as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle;
But joy in the struggle - and we stand there;
Beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing;
Asking people what they see."
Winter Solstice is fast approaching and it will be especially dark this year as a new moon falls on Sunday, Dec. 21st. Yes, indeed, a very dark, longest night of the year. I can't think of a better time, though, to set your resolve and look deep within to find your guiding light for 2015
The yoga tradition uses the word Sankalpa, which means to resolve. And in many classes, you may hear a teacher asking students to "set an intention" before the practice.
A resolve is similar to a New Year's resolution, but a sankalpa practice is under the belief that you already are who you need to be to fulfill your life's dharma (or life's purpose). The sankalpa helps you to find your ultimate goal or purpose in life.
San, refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. "By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma-our overriding purpose for being here." The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.
YOY was recently approved as an advanced 300 Hour Yoga Teacher Training School! Check out our new video on what we offer in this training program!
Testimonial from a regular student at YOY:
"For most of my life I had been an extremely active, athletic person, but I had been through 2 nasty foot operations in the previous 9 months and was suffering from crippling arthritic pain in my lower back, shoulder problems from months on crutches and a sadness I was unaccustomed to experiencing. Perhaps yoga would help me?
In my first gentle yoga classes at YOY I discovered that I could barely bend from my waist without pain, my upper body was weak, my confidence was low, and my foot was not completely healed. With the help of Jayne and the other instructors, their consistent reminders about using the core muscles, posture and proper form, along with the comradery of fellow students, over the months I slowly became stronger, more flexible and most importantly, a happier person.
Within a few months of starting at YOY, my son and I were offered the opportunity to join a small group of trekkers in the Himalaya in Tibet. My orthopedic surgeon gave me the go ahead after taking out another one of the screws in my foot, and I started to build my aerobic endurance and strength along with my yoga classes at Yoga on York. I had 6 months to train.
Along the way, I tried various other yoga classes around Baltimore including some of the power yoga and Bikram classes. I realized that Yoga on York was more tailored to my lifestyle and it was a better choice for me; I could take my own yoga practice to a higher level at YOY.
The hard physical training paid off and we experienced an amazing trek in October, 2014 to Tibet reaching altitudes of 18,000 feet and sleeping at heights up to 16,500 feet.
I can honestly say that had I not started yoga to prepare my mind, body and spirit for long-term health, I don’t think I could have attempted the climb. Not only had yoga strengthened my endurance and flexibility, it gave me the confidence and peace of mind to attempt our adventure. For me, this will be a lasting transformation." ~ Mark (Margaret) Hoffberger
As I sit down to write this newsletter, I'm sipping a warm *Ojas drink. What's an ojas (pronounced oh-jus) drink you ask? Well, let me tell you...... it's a delicious ayurvedic drink that nourishes your body if you're depleted or can even help you sleep at night. There are many different versions of this drink, but the recipe that I just made is at the bottom of this newsletter.
* "Ojas is a Sanskrit word that means "vigor." According to the principles of Ayurveda, it's the essential energy of the body which can be equated with the "fluid of life." Those who practice Ayurveda say that Ojas is the sap of one's life energy which, when sufficient, is equated with immunity and, when deficient, results in weakness, fatigue and ultimately disease." (wikipedia)
Happy 4th Birthday YOY!!
Thanks to each and every one of you who has helped grow this community yoga studio into a special space where neighbors can gather, share stories and get some peace of mind & health and well being. Even if you've just come once or twice for a class, please know that you've all mattered to us and we couldn't have come this far without you. A special shout out and HUGE THANK YOU to all of our fabulous teachers at YOY including: Adrienne Bergthold, Mariko Crafton, Christa Del Giorno, BeeJay Hart, Tanya Krasauskas, Sandra Nicht, Becky Perlmutter, Dave Ransone, Italy Sandgren, Paul Shapiro, Lisa Warren. Woo Hoo!!!
Interested in becoming a Yoga Teacher? Stop by our OPEN HOUSE Sunday, November 23rd, 3:30-4:30pm
We'll answer all of your questions about our three (yes, three!) upcoming trainings coming in January 2015. 200 hour training, 300 hour advanced yoga training (prerequisite: 200 hour training), and an aerial yoga teacher training. Light refreshments served. Bring a friend or relative. No RSVP needed. Here's a glimpse in the yellow window below:
For more info: www.yogaonyork.net.
(recipe from http://www.yogawisdomandwellness.com)
2 cups organic milk (use whatever kind you like - regular milk, almond, soy or rice) 2-3 organic pitted dates 20 soaked or blanched and peeled almonds*
a pinch ground cardamom 1/8 tsp cinnamon A few threads of saffron (optional)
10 whole peppercorns (optional)
Other optional ingredients: 1 tsp ghee 1 tsp honey
• Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the dates, almonds, and spices.
• Slowly bring to the mixture to a boil - stirring frequently.
• Once it begins to boil, remove from heat. Add honey and ghee, if you like.
• Pour everything into a blender and blend until frothy.
Drink and enjoy!!
** to blanch almonds - pour hot water over almonds and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, use your fingernails to slip off the almond peel. (removing skin makes the almonds easier to digest)
And please, for goodness sakes......STAY BENDY!
No one knows exactly how yoga might reduce inflammation in breast cancer survivors, but Kiecolt-Glaser lays out some research-based suggestions. Cancer treatment often leaves patients with high levels of stress and fatigue, and an inability to sleep well. "Poor sleep fuels fatigue, and fatigue fuels inflammation," she says. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress and help people sleep better. Read National Geographic's article
I recently touched my feet back down in Baltimore again after spending 6 weeks in Brazil. I haven't taken that much time off since I was in graduate school backpacking through Europe one summer with a student eurail and international youth hostel pass.
I went to Brazil to deepen my spiritual practice with Templo Guaracy. The Guaracyan philosophy closely aligns with yoga and it's symbol also shares part of the OM symbol (see below).
Guaracy was founded in Brazil 40 years ago by Carlos Buby and has spread throughout Brazil as well as 7 other countries: Austria, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Haiti, Canada and the US (California, New York, and D.C.). I was introduced to this group by one of my aerial dance students a few years ago after inquiring about the Guaracyan symbol tattooed on her arm. After picking her brain and asking questions for two hours, I decided to go check out one of their giras (gatherings).
Snapshot of 6 weeks in Brazil
For the first three weeks, I stayed in Sao Paulo with my Guaracyan hosts, Monica and Cicero. I had a small bedroom on the 14th floor of their tiny guarded high rise apartment with a beautiful view of the city. Sao Paulo is the 2nd largest city in the world. The people are very kind but there's also a lot of crime. I took a bus and then subway one hour each way through extreme conditions (both poverty and wealth) in SP to get to my daily language class. On the weekends, I travelled to Mataganza, to attend Templo Guaracy's gira. A gira is a gathering of sacred drumming, singing, dancing and spiritual work through mediumship.
After that, I traveled north the city of Fortaleza where I stayed with another Guaracyan family for two weeks before meeting up with my D.C group. Fortaleza is a beautiful city near the ocean and this is where I learned how to shred coconut to make some awesome Brazilian foods.
For the final 10 days, we traveled north 3 hours to a small fisherman's town called Flecheiras. This little undeveloped village is where Guaracy has recently established a retreat center for their camirinhas (or sacred rituals). Camirinhas are led by the founder, Carolos Buby to help develop and deepen our spiritual light. Camirinhas are quite special and other Guaracyan groups from around the world travel to Brazil to attend each year. This year we spent 10 days with groups from Austria, Paris as well as some of the Brazilians folks.
Maybe you are planting a garden this summer? Well, I'd like to offer suggestions for planting in your garden:
Plant 3 row of peas:
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul
Plant 4 rows of squash:
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness
Plant 4 rows of lettuce:
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another
No garden is without turnips:
1. Turnip for commitments
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another
To conclude our garden we must have thyme:
1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends
Brian Lottman recently contacted me to see if YOY would be interested in hosting a *Satsang in May. I have to admit that I receive dozens of emails from solicitors and I typically hit the delete button seconds into reading them. But after doing a bit more research I discovered that his story is quite remarkable. Brian has been traveling around the US for almost two years and is now making his way to Maryland on May 1st. He renounced his old life by selling most of his belongings (home, business, etc.) and is now sharing his stories about the Path to Enlightenment at the behest of his Spiritual Teacher, Sri Sri Sri Svami Purna Maharaj. (yes, that is three Sri's). On Friday, May 2nd, 7:30 - 9:30pm YOY is hosting a *Satsang (spiritual teachings) with Brian. He will also be playing harmonium and singing kirtan. I hope that you will come out to support his journey and hear his words of wisdom. Please pass this information on and save the date!! *Sat-sanga is a sanskrit word meaning, 'Company of Truth'. This can be explained as good fellowship or good company, it is keeping in the association or company of Truth-seeking souls: those who seek to learn and practice truthfulness, love, duty, devotion, and peace. True friends encourage only the best in us. Satsang enables us to see through the delusion of worldly desires. This is particularly true when one has the blessing of being in the blissful company of a true Self-realised guru, saint, or realised sage.
I've been known to call myself "The Queen of Insomnia." Ever since I came home from a loud concert in 1989, my ears have never stopped ringing. It's neurological damage and the name is called "tinnitus." I've had to learn how to re-adjust to these high pitched "tea-kettles" going off in my ears every night when I lay my head down on the pillow in order to fall asleep. At first it was extremely difficult and frustrating because the ringing would not leave me alone. For the first 6 months I was a walking zombie, cranky and sleep deprived. It wasn't until I realized that I had to make friends with these high pitched shrills in order to fall asleep. It's going on 25 years now, and for the most part, I've adjusted and accepted that they are not going away. It took a shift in consciousness in order to get some sleep.
Recently, I heard a lecture from Dr. Rubin Naiman called the Yoga of Sleep (different than Yoga Nidra). It was about how we don't get sleep because we don't "get" sleep. We need to shift our consciousness about the way we approach sleep; similar to what I had to do many years ago. He's been studying sleep for over 30 years and believes we need to view sleep as sacred. This lecture introduced me to the spiritual aspects of sleep. What a revolution for me! I've been fighting and cursing sleep for so many years, (not very yogic of me, I know) but I now understand that my conscious mind needs to rest so my sleeping mind can awaken and heal my body. Sleep is healing medicine in so many ways. If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Naiman, his website is: www.drnaiman.com
I recently came
across this quote and found it to be very much like yoga. To be in the present moment and feel the wonder and joy of every day things including our breath and our body. To be able to find the
extraordinary in reaching our arms out to our sides to feel the expansiveness of body or the expansiveness of breath; to stand tall like a mountain and feel strength in your feet touching the
earth. When you step off the yoga mat and out into the world, yoga helps us find a renewed sense of self. How we pay attention to the different textures, colors, or movement of the wind
makes all the difference in the world.
The Wise Woman's Stone
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day, she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.
The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.
But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman."I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone. ~Author unknown
Because I'm from Vermont, Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Our first daughter was born mid Fall (almost 22 years ago!) and I couldn't think of a better season to welcome a new one into the world. So many beautiful colors with crisp, clear days. It's been said that you should eat foods that are the colors of Fall. I've included my most delicious Fall recipe at the end of this newsletter: Pumpkin Curried Dahl. Mmmmm!
Fall marks the time when night and day are perfectly balanced because day and night are of equal lengths. This is the best time to work on what you can balance in both your yoga practice and life. Vrksasana (Tree Pose) is a great way to work on balance. As you stand on one leg, feel the roots grow deep from the sole of your balancing foot. Image the moist fertile earth beneath your rooted foot drinking in the nutrients to grow your tree. Feel the solar power energizing your tree upward.
As you transistion into Fall, here are some mindful Autumn meditations:
Are you the type of person who always gives to others but not yourself? In order to live a healthy and balanced life, we need to give and take equally. If we constantly give, give, give, then we fall into exhaustion and we deny ourselves the rewards from giving. Why is it so hard for people to receive? Was it the way we were raised or by what society dictates such as: "You should stand on your own," "Don't be dependent on anyone," "Don't be a burden to others," or "You don't deserve that!" Even when receiving a compliment, it might be easier to dismiss it rather than to accept and acknowledge what we have done.
Take a deep breath this very moment and honor yourself. Bring your palms together over your heart center (Anjali Mudra) and inwardly smile as you remember things in your life that you've achieved and accomplished. Pay homage to yourself. Recognize within yourself that you are special and were put on this earth for a reason.
This specialize style of yoga is designed for the expectant mothers as well as brand new mothers who wish to gently move back into a work out routine. Prenatal vinyasa yoga (vinyasa simply means linking movement with breath) creates awareness in your body and mind bringing you into a deeper connection with yourself and baby. Prenatal yoga has been said to prepare the body safely for labor. Aid in digestion, minor or strong discomforts in the body, promote healthy circulation and provides relaxation to the body and mind.
During this practice you will safely strengthen and lengthen all muscles that support you during your labor and throughout your pregnancy. You will learn tools to use during early and later stages in labor to gently open the pelvis and relax the pelvic floor muscles. You will learn poses to use in times of discomfort during your pregnancy as well as more comfortable positions to sleep or rest in.
HEARTFELT THANK YOU
To all of you who donated to the Tom Blanks Fund. YOY was able to raise $800. and we were so happy to present Tom and his family with a check from YOY. Tom was able to get home mid August but has had a few setbacks after a sepsis infection set in due to many surgeries, etc. Please keep Tom and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he continues to heal from his biking injury. If you missed the fundraiser and would still like to give, the Blanks are still in need to reach their goal. Here's the link where you can give:
I usually don't go around asking people "What does Yoga mean to you?" But since embarking on a project to create a 3 minute video (to be entered into Yoga Alliance's "The Business of Yoga" video contest), I asked at least two dozen people this question walking in and out of classes over the last 10 days.
Well, my heart is so full now, it could just burst. What a gift it is to hear the different ways yoga has touched people's lives. Thanks to all who contributed to our video project.
The Yoga On York walls will feature 2 new artists this coming Sunday, June 30th with an open reception from 2-4pm. Chloe Niclas (Cleveland Institute of Art) and Jeremy Cain (Maryland Institute College of Art). Please come out for light refreshments and help us celebrate these two young artists.
BRAZIL - April 2013
I recently returned from a 10-day spiritual retreat to Brazil and it will take me a while to absorb everything that I encountered and learned from this experience. Aside from participating in many Camarinha rituals, with drumming and sacred songs (ponto), I ate fresh guava, passionfruit and mangos fresh off the trees. On the grounds of Mataganza (the retreat center) there's a nature waterfall, two ponds with fountains, horses, chickens and roosters to wake up to each morning.
The founder, Carlos Buby, lives at Mataganza which is outside Sao Paulo. So after 2 years of practicing his spiritual laws, it was time to make the trek over to Brazil to meet and experience his teachings first hand. For the past two years, I've been traveling to DC weekly to learn from the spiritual tradition of Templo Guaracy. This group follows an oral tradition of Umbanda but combines with it the Orixa's (which are the forces of nature). Templo Guaracy has Afro-Brazilian and Native Indian roots and is based on the belief system that nature is the Divine. These forces of nature (fire, earth, water, air) are used to guide them.
The practice of Templo Guaracy has similar crossovers that connect to the philosophy of Yoga. I've found that the ultimate goal for both traditions is essentially the same: Enlightenment! It's fascinating to discover how different cultures are on the same spiritual quest to attain the same goals as the yoga community. It may be a different path, but both lead to the same outcome.
MARCH - 2013
I love to wake up each morning and read Eknath Easwaran's "Thought For The Day" (delivered to my inbox daily) for that extra little spiritual boost to send me on my way. Easwaran takes a great quote and then writes his own interpretation based on his spiritual side of things. I thought I'd share today's TFTD since the last line caught my funny bone:
The body is mortal, but the person dwelling in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
- Bhagavad Gita
When I say that this body is not me, I am not making an intellectual statement. It is an experiential statement. If you were to ask me, "Who is this body?" I would make an awful pun: "This is my buddy. I give him good food and good exercise, and I look after him very well, but he is not me."
My body has always been my faithful buddy, through many trials, and during many difficult times; and I let him know how much I appreciate his faithful service. We have an understanding: I take very good care of him, and he looks up to me as the boss. As Saint Francis used to say, "This body is Brother Donkey. I feed him, I wash him, but I am going to ride on him." Whenever we use drugs, or smoke, or drink, or even overeat, the donkey is riding on us. Francis challenges us: "Don't you want to get that donkey off your back and ride on it?"
In the spirit of Yoga and the month of February, I would like to share a beautiful love poem with you:
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Well, now that 2012 is almost behind us, we can look forward to a new year with new beginnings, new possibilities, new hopes and new dreams. The end of a year is a wonderful time to reflect on aspects in your life that need closings. Do you have any loose ends that you need to wrap up or bring closure to in order to move forward? We can't think of a better way to start the year off right than by getting your yoga on!
As you're thinking about New Year's resolutions, why not think about these changes as forming a new habit. Good habits for positive changes in your lifestyle. Some believe it takes four to six weeks of "consistent" action for a behavior to become an ingrained action or habit. Making lasting changes involves going through phases of the change and please don't think that the change can happen over night. Start with small increments. Then, build yourself up so that it's not so overwhelming to your mind and/or body. Think of any new change as a beginner would in a yoga class.
The holiday season is upon us and the clock is tick, tick, tick, tick, ticking. Chances are in the month of December you'll be wishing there were 36 instead of 24 hours in a day. One of the most simple and profound ways to help reset your nervous systems and recharge your batteries is by understanding the power of Savasana, a pose regarded by many yogis as the most important of them all and relaxed stillness offers the perfect counter-pose to our busy lives.
Savasana (pronounced Sha-vah-sana) means Corpse Pose. Sava means corpse in Sanskrit, and Savasana is a preparation for a conscious death in which supreme consciousness that is everywhere and in everything is released. By emulating a corpse through conscious relaxation, one symbolically dies in order to be born anew. Some instructors like to end with Savasana, while some start at the beginning of class to relax into greatness in order to center yourself before beginning to move into asanas.
YOY is offering the final workshop in our Fall Series: Yoga Nidra (sleep yoga). It's scientifically proven that doing 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is like taking a 2 hour nap. This class will help your body into the triple R's (restore, rejuvenate, renew) during the stressful month of December. Sunday, December 16th from 2-4pm. Pre-register online.
Looking out of my sister's bedroom window, I watch the foliage grow more intense with each passing day. Jan lives in the mountains of Stowe, Vermont; 30 miles from where we grew up. Today is day 8 of holding her hand and trying to keep her as calm and comfortable as we can until the end, which is close. As a dancer/yogini, I can't even begin to imagine how she has endured this 5-year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
All the Yoga that I've practiced in the last 23 years has prepared me for this present moment with my sister. I am living my YOGA in its deepest, fullest, rawest form. It all boils down to these precious moments with Jan and she is my Guru. As I help her through this final phase, she is teaching me how to die. Jan is also teaching me to live in each moment fully and deeply.
I am grateful to have Paul back in Baltimore to keep the studio in order during this difficult time. The studio is going through some changes, as well, but we hope that you will bear with us while these changes occur. I am looking forward to returning to YOY as it gives me such healing strength and a sense of renewal and joy. What could be better than to watch the afterglow of yoga shining on the faces leaving class at YOY?
(Note: The above was written on Friday, Sept. 28th and Jan passed yesterday, Sept. 29th)
From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
It's late summer and blood flows through bones like the sap through the limbs of a tree. Our physical activity influences the quality and quantity of bone mass, so if you increased activity, you'll increase your bone density. Yoga exercises the entire skeleton through pressure applied on all the bones. Bones can withstand much pushing and pulling and yoga utilizes strength in both directions. Mental and emotional stress can compress both muscles and the skeleton but yoga helps to reverse the effects of compression.
If you're stretching and doing lots of yoga, you're bound to get sore. Well, that's normal and it's all part of the process. Getting hungry and craving different kinds of foods is also part of the process. Your body is telling you what it needs, which leads me to announce YOY's upcoming Fall Workshop series and classes. Take advantage of our mindful lectures on what your body needs to transition from late Summer into early Fall and beyond. And, we are delighted to offer yoga to a wider range of abilities and populations starting in September. After all, Yoga is for EVERYONE!