An Evening of Cat-themed Yoga, Nov. 27, 5:45-7:00 p.m.

Please sign up below and join us for a purrrfect evening of cat-themed yoga, a cat slide show, some cat yoga poses, and pretty much any creative cat-themed idea your Aloft teachers are able to conjure. We will even have some cat-themed refreshments and cat-themed music!

It’s all for a great cause-building the new cat shelter, supporting the Humane Society on #GIVINGTUESDAY and to support the Lauren McCluskey Memorial Fund for the new facility. Please feel free to wear a cat costume (maybe some ears?), bring some cat-themed snacks to share, and be ready to stretch and roll like a cat (chair sitting cats are welcome to join us as well!).

 

Sign up here for Cat Yoga fundraiser

What is Zumba Gold?

Zumba Gold is a gentler version of Zumba.  As described on the Zumba website, Zumba Gold is a good choice for “Active older adults who are looking for a modified Zumba® class that recreates the original moves you love at a lower-intensity.” In the studio, we also find it good for anyone looking for a lower impact, less hip intensive experience of Zumba.

Again, from the website:  “How It Works” and “Benefits”

“The design of the class introduces easy-to-follow Zumba® choreography that focuses on balance, range of motion and coordination. Come ready to sweat, and prepare to leave empowered and feeling strong.  Class focuses on all elements of fitness: cardiovascular, muscular conditioning, flexibility and balance!”

Come join JeeHee twice a month on Thursday mornings at 8:30 to experience Zumba Gold (Zumba Gold and Nia alternate on Thursdays at Aloft).

Want more Zumba Gold?  Let Kristine know!  JeeHee is open to scheduling a weekly Zumba Gold class if there is a core group that would like this class!

 

MindBody Connect asks “Does Your Posture Support You?”

By Chris Dopke
A starting question:  Does your physical structure, your posture, support you in the many things you want to do as you go through your day?  If not, do you have an awareness of what is amiss?
As you read these words are you also aware of your posture? Is the alignment of your spine supporting the weight of your head, or are the back and neck muscles working to hold your head in a forward tilting position? Would you like to practice paying better attention to your self-use in everything you do?
Using body movement as a toolbox to explore attention in a relaxed, slow-paced manner can increase your awareness of your habits and help you discover other possibilities that may be easier or take you away from chronic pain patterns.
As she went through the Feldenkrais Teacher Training program, a colleague of mine became conscious of her lifelong habit of eating without ever paying attention to her sense of fullness. By the end of the four year program she looked and felt like a different person- at a healthy personal weight for the first time.
There really is no limit to the benefits of learning to be more connected to ourselves. MindBody Connect is a class that gives you the support and tools to mindfully explore your body, and develops new tools and mind-body “pathways” to enhance and strengthen your movement.  You will be come aware of your personal movement habits and gradually learn a practice that enhances your own ability to  create healthy, functional movement in your body.  Chris makes the practice accessible to a wide variety of bodies and physical challenges.

Opening Up and Letting Go

Cill

By Cil Richards

Cil Richards is a professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Washington State University.  She has a committed meditation practice and teaches and leads a weekly meditation group at Aloft Studios.    Here, she shares thoughts about meditation and shares why she meditates.

In this politically charged election year I have been thinking a lot about views and how much trouble they can cause.

View plays such a big role in what we believe, what we think about, and what we experience. It’s easy to say that we should drop our deeply held views and assumptions but that won’t make it happen. Fortunately meditation practice is a means to help us see those deeply held views and their effect.

When we meditate do we really open up to what is there or do we make assumptions about what we are experiencing? “I’m tense, I’m sad, I’m not good at concentrating. I’d be able to meditate if I wasn’t so hot.” Persistent investigation reveals the holes in these assumptions about experience. Anyone who has sat and watched their mind knows that it’s a madhouse in there. Thoughts and moods come and go like crazy. Things are constantly changing. And although sometimes that can be a little disconcerting, it’s a good thing. The fact of change means there is opportunity, possibility. I’m not sad, or angry, or hot. Those states come and go. Further investigation can reveal under what conditions these states arise and the patterns of behavior that play out over and over. For example, when I am stressed I often find that there is also some craving or aversion present. By looking closely we begin to see that we often fabricate our own reality based on views. Accompanying views are associations and memories that the mind uses to solidify and manufacture a way of viewing experience.

A helpful analogy from the physical world is a rainbow. We have all seen rainbows. No one would argue that they don’t exist, but we have all discovered that you can’t catch a rainbow, can’t touch it, and there is, alas, no pot of gold to be had. But what is a rainbow really? Is it a thing? Isn’t it really a process? One that happens when certain conditions are present? The recipe for a rainbow includes sun, rain, and an observer (you or me). Take away any one of these three and you don’t have a rainbow. The rainbow observed depends on where the observer is. That is, no two people ever see the ‘same’ rainbow. There is no ‘true’ rainbow. The rainbow ‘exists’ in relation to the sun, the rain, and the observer. Viewpoint matters.

We all hold some mental model of how the world works. Most often, when confronted with information that violates that worldview we ignore it or deny it. By doing so we miss an opportunity to learn. Through meditation if we really look at what’s really happening we see many things that challenge our worldview. If we can loosen our grip on our views and allow a new way of seeing then the possibility of transformative learning or insight arises. Letting go of views and allowing for different ways of seeing and views is an important part of meditation practice.

In my own practice through the years I have let go of and loosened many of my views. This has not been easy since as a professor I have certainly suffered from the ‘know it all’ disease. However, letting go of knowing how it is and seeing how it really is has really opened up my mind and practice.

Curiosity of Movement

 

By Chris Dopke
(Join Chris for  “Asleep/Awake-Aware” on Thursdays at 11:00, a healing movement class in the style of movement of Moshe Feldenkrais)
Ever since l learned to do backbends and headstands when my mom enrolled me in acrobatics at age 7, I’ve been curious about movement. However, looking back, I see that for many years through my experiences in gymnastics, cheerleading, diving- it was always about my ability to see and mimic movement and not at all about what does it actually feel like to move myself.
In 1995 I started taking yoga from a teacher in Eugene and marveled that every class was an opportunity to discover something new about my body and how I moved. I did notice that when I took from different instructors I did not get the same level of new information. Ten years into my studies with Deborah I finally said to myself, maybe I’m learning so much in her classes because she’s also a Feldenkrais teacher. Aha moment, you might say!
In 2006 I began the four year Feldenkrais teacher training in Bend OR and learned to think about movement and flexibility and effort and the body’s intelligence in a whole new way. I found I am a creature of habit and the lessons were giving me options I had never considered before. I am endlessly curious about  all the patterns and habits in my use of self, and now I enjoy teaching these lessons of discovery to others.

The Joy of Less Expectation: Musings on meditation by Carolea Webb

I consider myself to be a reasonably serious meditator.  I’ve taken the time to look deeply at my mind, with varying degrees of intensity, for going on twenty years now.  I’m still no kind of expert, but I have noticed a few significant changes for the better. One big difference is that I find meditating to be less effort and more fun.

I was thinking about that as I drove home today after meditating with Kristine Zakarison and two other friends this afternoon, and I thought it might be a good subject for her blog.

One reason I have more fun meditating now is that I’m no longer imposing so many expectations on what I should experience.  In the early days, I expected that by watching my breath and being aware of my thoughts I should be able to make the thoughts go away, or at least reduce them enough to produce a calm state of mind. If I didn’t manage that I gave myself a mental scolding. “Bad meditator!” I said. “Bad!”

I also thought I should never fall asleep, squirm on my cushion or fantasize about food.  (Honestly, I remember a week-long retreat when I couldn’t seem to quit visualizing bell peppers. Go figure.) I had a long list of things I could do wrong.

Over the years, I have let that go (at least to a large degree).  Each morning I approach my meditation with curiosity.  “What will my meditation be like today?” I ask myself. “Will I relax into the joy of pure consciousness or will I feel like I’m half crazy?”  It’s fun to see what turns up!  I simply try to perceive what is present without identifying with it.  All kinds of mental phenomena (or the lack of it) comes and goes.

I didn’t tell myself to quit having expectations and judgments.  It just happened naturally over time.  And, here’s what was surprising to me: the less I tried to force a sense of well-being into my meditations, the more it arose naturally on its own.  I had made friends with the experience!  Now, whether I struggle to stay awake, fight an urge to plan my grocery list, come up with a brilliant insight, acknowledge some worry, or sit in blessed awareness of the present moment, I consider it a privilege to live the adventure.

On Slowing Down, Being Mindful, and Truly Seeing — By Marji Neill

I love to share words from others about why you value your practice, and how you manifest your practice in your daily life.  I share some words Marji Neill shared with me, along with an image of where Marji meets herself/her spirit:

“Hi Kristine,

It was great being with you in class today!   I’ve missed seeing everyone.   I had to chuckle when you were talking about being mindful, slowing down, and making eye contact.  Lots of thoughts came to my mind.   I do not have many natural talents [editorial note from KZ:  this is not true!], but for whatever reason, complete strangers have always opened up to me.  My girls noticed this when they were young and it is something that drives my husband nuts.   When we are out, and I speak with total strangers, he will often ask, “Do you KNOW that person?”   Growing up with an “always be busy, busy, busy” mentality, I tend to walk briskly, but I like to smile and greet anyone I see.  This has led to a ton of “little while friends” and fun conversations.  Also, it seems like my guardian angel or spirit guide (or whatever energy is helping me through life on earth), likes to draw my attention to wildlife at just the right moment, and it’s been a fun part of my life.    Lately I’ve noticed I’m not walking as fast.  It made me wonder if I was holding back to not irritate my cranky knee (chronic), or if I am just getting older.   But, you gave me hope that maybe I am finally understanding that if I zoom through life with my head down, I will miss a lot.   After all, I want to know how that wild turkey family with seeming limited good sense, is doing!”

Sept 29, 2015

Why Do I Dance Nia?

Nia has an active, international, online community.  I was struck by this recent post by Irit Orr.  Those of us choose Nia do so for many different reasons.  We love the community aspect of dancing together, we use it as our form of fitness, we dance beause it’s fun, in dancing, we experience joy and express ourselves. Here, Irit shares her reasons.

“Thanks for moving to heal – NIA.  This method helps me move forward during hard and sad days. It embraces me gently and helps me move on with harmony and respect to the situation. On easy flowing days this movement helps me reach heights, reach depths, and reach new dimensions. I fell in love with moving to heal. I exercise couple of times a week, and can’t wait to the next teacher training course with Debbie Rosas.”

We Welcome Janet Keeney, yoga and therapeutic yoga

janet headshotv1We are pleased to welcome Janet Keeney to the teaching faculty at Aloft Studios.  Please read her wonderful bio on the teacher’s page, as well as her class description.

Below is a description that Janet wrote of the class she is teaching, called “Yoga As It Is.”  It will give you a sense of the type of care and detail of the class:

“Over a period of 1 year, yoga practices are taught to develop awareness of, and work toward mastery of, each of our 5 levels of existence. We begin with the physical, and continue to practice at that level, as we progress into more subtle levels. These levels are called koshas, the following being a brief description of each:

1) Annamaya Kosha – The physical level. Asana practice is the primary practice at this level. The asanas not only increase strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, toning, improve balance, body awareness and proper spinal alignment, but they are also designed to create specific spinal movements, (including movements of the spine with breathing), to draw in awareness, postural and spacial awareness, awareness of tensions stored in the body, so they can be released, and an overall awareness, in preparation for meditation. The asanas are also a means to learn to put forth effort with complete relaxation. Chakra work is included in this level, including specific krias, (cleansing techniques), and bundhas, (gentle holding techniques), as well as specific prananyamas, (breathing techniques), for each chakra level.

2) Pranamaya Kosha – The life energy level. Pranayama practice, becoming aware of subtle life forces, utilizing specific breathing techniques. In these practices, students will learn to calm and conserve their life energies, alter the flow of energies for enhancing proficiency in desired activities, and enhance lung capacity. Practices at this life energy level also affect the physical and mental levels, relaxing the body and bringing peace to the mind. Practiced regularly, they also slow the aging process.

3) Manamaya Kosha – The mental level. Premeditation and meditation practices are done for this level, both traditional forms of yoga meditation, and non­traditional forms. Students will develop awareness of the pictorial mind and the verbal mind, and their variable ratios within individuals. With this awareness, students will learn to still the pictorial mind, and quiet the verbal mind, leading to a state of deep peace.

4) Vignanamaya Kosha – The intellectual level. Practices develop awareness of that aspect of our existence that directs our mind, so that mind “becomes an instrument in our hand”; we can become the directors of our own minds, rather that the mind seeming to “have a mind of its own”.

5) Anandamaya Kosha – The spiritual level. Well practiced states of meditation bring us to this level experientially. A map of this level is given intellectually, and a practice is given mentally, in order to bring about the experience of this spiritualSelf, which is total peace, pure bliss….”

Asleep/ Awake-Aware: Therapeutic Movement in the Style of Moshe Feldenkrais

Class on Thursdays at 11:00

Taught by Christine Dopke.

The class uses gentle movement to help you become aware of movement patterns, to retrain your nervous system to make healthier movement choices, and to heal chronic injuries and imbalances. The movement is mostly done on the floor. There is a focus on movement of the body as well as the breath. The classes are suitable for all bodies and level of fitness. If are recovering from an injury or looking for a gentle but powerful way to bring healing movement into your daily life, or if you are dedicated to a particular movement form but would like to deepen your practice, the movement style Feldenkrais is suited for you.

Cost:
Drop in 10.00
5 class pass 40.00
Checks only, please them to Christine Dopke. You may pay by the class or purchase a pass directly from Christine when you come to class.
(This class is not a part of the Aloft class pass system.)

Below is a youtube video link in which you can see a bit of a class and hear people talk about the value of Feldenkrais as a healing practice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_i5QuIqcQo&NR=1#t=33s

For more information, please contact Chris at christinedopko1@gmail.com