Rise and Shine yoga

Thursday mornings, 6:30-7:30am

Awaken the body and mind with this all level, floor-based class. The class will include breath work, some meditation, foundational yoga poses during the warm-up and cool-down, gentle flow, and one “focal pose,” which will be taught at different levels. Students are encouraged to take the poses as deep or as gently as they like to honor how their bodies are feeling each day as we move through the class.

This class is taught in a Hatha yoga style, which is a balance between warming up and cooling down the body. This practice will help students stretch out the body and awaken and re-focus the mind after sleep. The intent is for students to leave the class feeling ready and energized for their day.

All levels of students are welcome and encouraged to join Lauren on Thursday mornings when Lauren is in town – please double check the weekly calendar to be sure Lauren is teaching.  She also maintains a texting group to let yogis know when the class is happening, when it is cancelled.  Leave a message on the Aloft website if you would like to be on Lauren’s “Early Rising Yogis” text message group.

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.

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

Dance with Me . . .

5100025281_c125e2c49e_zI think that most of you know that, very soon, I am heading out to Boston to have brain surgery to attempt to remedy my epilepsy. I am very fortunate to have a talented and loving community of teachers to teach and substitute while I’m away, although classes will be more limited, so please be sure and check the schedule every week. I feel incredibly graced to have such a wonderful group of friends/teachers who have agreed to teach while I’m away, and also to have a loving community of students who have been understanding and supportive. I’m convinced that it takes a village to face up to brain surgery . . . Thanks for being my village.
I’m going to write a separate post about this, but one of the things I find myself wanting to do, as I face this surgery, is dance, and dance, and dance. I have loved having the opportunity to do Nia with many of you, and the joy and the freedom of dancing together seems to be keeping me in just the right, hope-filled space, living in the moment of now, that I need to be in to deal with what is coming up. So keep dancing with me while I’m away and send me your good energy!
Another thing I’ve learned a lot about is the incredible power of the stillness that yoga and meditation/prayer have taught me. About a month ago, I had an extensive series of brain scans at the Martinos Center, a research center of the Mass. General Hospital. Turns out I have a strong ability to make my body and mind very still for long periods of time, which makes for great brain scans. It has been interesting to “see” the images of my own meditating mind, and to discuss with researchers and doctors the power of learning stillness and how it does create a different looking brain.
So dance with me, or be still with me, in the weeks ahead. If you want to follow the details of what’s going on, I have another blog, epileptica.com, that is specifically about the surgery. My husband Jonathan as well as myself will be posting about my journey. In the meantime, I am grateful for the presence of all of you in my life, and it is an honor to teach you . . . One that I don’t take for granted.

Finding Your Quiet Place

IMG_1162Let’s face it . . . We all need a break sometimes.  We need moment to step back, gain some perspective, recognize that we are more than the thoughts and emotions we are having in the immediate moment.  We need a moment to realize that we are more than the physical pain, the grief, the fear, or the illness we are experiencing.  It’s no wonder that, within the traditional path of yoga, four of it’s eight limbs are dedicated to learning to quiet and focus our minds.  In yoga, it’s sometimes called “cultivating the witness.”  We use our breath, our ability to focus and concentrate, our posture, and our intention to become familiar with that part of ourselves that can “witness” our thoughts, feelings, even our discomfort.  We initially learn to recognize, and then gradually to be at home with, this witnessing part of ourselves.  Once found, the witnessing place within us can be a powerful reminder that we are more than the sum of our immediate strong feelings, thoughts, story-lines, physical pain, even illness.  Cultivation of the witness within ourselves empowers us to make choices where before we felt victim to circumstances and situations beyond our control.  We meet the witness as a loving, non-judgmental place within ourselves.  Spending time in this witnessing place creates a sense of sanctuary and peace.

We begin learning this process early on in yoga practice, and then we integrate it into our asana practice.  Once we are able to consistently find it in yoga, it has the benefit of expanding outward into the rest of our lives.

Threshold Moments

 

Yoga in the season of Harvest

Last day of August, sunset yogaI live in a place that is filled with Sri, the sanskrit word for beauty.  This area is known as the “Palouse.”  My family has now lived here for four generations, and I’m a part of a group of women who lovingly know ourselves as the “Daughters of the Palouse” (our self-proclaimed acronym is “D.O.P.e S.”).  My love of this small corner of the world pulled me out of a forward-advancing career in Cambridge, MA, and back to the hills and fields where I have grown up and that I love.  For me, my yoga practice is not only good physical exercise, but it is also a spiritual practice that allows this sense of connection to deepen.  Because of yoga, I am regularly pulled off of my mat and into community.  I find that my yoga practice feels “complete,” not when I get into a perfect asana, but when I find that I am able to fully integrate the lessons that I learn on the mat into the actions that I take in my community and world to make it a better place.  So working toward preservation of our local eco-system, understanding food security, participating in developing more sustainable solutions to growing issues of homelessness in our community . . . These are all a part of my practice.  The mat is my “launching pad,” as well as one part of my home base.

As you can see in the photo, we are now in the season of harvest around the Palouse.  The native people of our area recognized this time as a separate season — the time of gathering in and taking stock, a time in which abundance was celebrated and shared, rather than horded.  I feel this same need in my yoga practice.  Harvest yoga is a season to take stock of the wisdom of our bodies and celebrate that abundance — however it looks — rather than focus on how we may perceive ourselves to be lacking.  And then, out of that sense of abundance and spaciousness, we take it beyond ourselves and into our lives and communities.  Where does your yoga lead you in the world?  More about being a Palouse yoga gal, though all the seasons, to come . . .

The “Red” Layer

Friend and yoga student Stephanie Crabtree who is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at WSU, read my post on the naming of KivaSpace, and added the following:  “After reading your description of kivas on your webpage I would like to add that they are not just ceremonial, but functioned as multi-use spaces for not only important religious rituals, but also offered places to get out of the hot sun or the cold winter, to dance (thus many of them have footdrums, like at Aztec) and to reconnect with the ancestors. :)”

I love this.  My vision of the space includes the possibilities of a multi-use space, a space to create community, and (goes without saying), a space to dance!  And a bit ago, as I worked in the space, I had my own personal moment of “reconnecting with ancestors.”

Gladish Community Center used to be the high school in Pullman.  Both of my parents attended high school in this building — it’s where they met and began dating.  In fact, the building is named after the man who was Principal when they were students — Oscar Gladish.  Mr. Gladish loved my mother (she was very bright and very socially active).  He had concerns about my Dad (Also very bright, but only taking band, shop, and typing his Senior Year, and frequently found sneaking out of the band room window to go down and play pool at the City Club — Guess Gladish has always had good windows to climb in and out of!).  So Mr. Gladish would lecture my mother, urging caution about dating and getting serious about that “Zakarison boy.”

Advance forward about twenty some years.  Gladish was turned into one of 2 local middle schools, and it was the one I attended (I can still sing the “Fight Song” . . . just ask!).  The little corner where KivaSpace is now coming to life was the P.E. teacher’s office and girl’s locker room.  As I was working on the space recently, scraping off layers of paint, I hit the “red layer” that you see in the picture.  Bam! I was transported to a memory I must haved buried a looong time ago.  For those of you that don’t know, I have epilepsy, and it turns out I had my very first grand mal seizure in this very same space, then the P.E. teacher’s office.  I had forgotten all about this until I hit the red layer of paint, which figures prominently in my memory as I hit that same paint while hitting the floor during the seizure.

I now have sympathy for that teacher.  Imagine an adolescent girl, walking into your office, telling you that she feels “really weird.”  The teacher suggested that maybe I was about to begin menstruating or having some sort of “personal/emotional issue.”  I then dropped onto her floor and had a seizure.  I remember coming back around, with her demanding that I quit “acting out for attention” and get back into the gym.  I remember being really scared because I felt really strange and I didn’t know what had happened.  And then I tried to walk out of her door, fell over, and got sick on her floor (Yes, the red one!).  She wasn’t pleased, I felt like a freak, and my epilepsy went undiagnosed for five more years.

So now that same space becomes a place for healing.  How’s that for calling up the ancestors and creating a space for loving forgiveness?  Here’s to all your healing journeys.  I hope that KivaSpace will be a part of them.

Hands that hurt (a bit), thoughts that heal

So, I’ve been working on the new space (now officially called “Kiva Space,” because it feels like a kiva to me — a Native American dwelling used for spiritual purposes, that one usually climbs into via a ladder!).  Rather than painting the walls, I’ve been using 3 colors of a beautiful product called American Clay.  It’s fabulous to work with, in a labor-intensive kind of way — you put it on with a roller and a trowel, and then you lovingly go over it, many times, with trowel and hands, to compress it and shape it to the wall.  If you were going for quick, it would be an aggravation.  However, I decided awhile ago that touching every part of every wall in Kiva Space would be a loving practice of intention, meditation, and prayer.  So, as I’ve worked, I’ve thought and dreamed to the lively and healing community space I want to bring to life in this funny, L-shaped space.  I’ve thought/held/prayed for many I know who have been in need of . . . well, the things we all need, trusting the beautiful place where we all connect to one another and far beyond our individual selves.  I’ve simply allowed myself to be intentionally open to yes, as I work in this little southeastern corner of Gladish.  As you can see, my hands are a bit weary, but my heart is full of the beauty of many of you.  The rainbow walls hold lots of love, and are waiting to hold the community we will become!  With a heart full of love and gratitude today — Kristine

Hasya Yoga: The Yoga of “laughter wisdom”

Okay, so I was out at the Zakarison Farm last night.  For those of you who don’t know, my family has a beautiful, partially organic farm here on the Palouse, where my brother and sister-in-law do magic raising chickens, goats, lambs, mules, llamas (no camels, alas!), crops, and a bunch of stuff.  The farm is definitely a part of my yoga.  But more on that later.  The reason I bring this up now is that my wonderful nephew, Aaron, was back for a brief, birthday visit, and so we were having a fantastic dinner for him.  In addition to eating fantastic food (thank you, Sheryl), we basically just laughed and laughed.  Aaron is an amazing guy – incredibly thoughtful, and very funny.  I was once again reminded of just how good it feels to spend a night, laughing.

Sadly enough, for many of us, being an adult is no laughing matter.  We often lose our ability to laugh as we grow up.  I read a study recently that said that children laugh 300-400 times a day.  By the time we get to be adults, that number drops to 15 -20 times a day.  American adults laugh less than adults from some other countries.

Here’s some of the science behind laughter (for those of you that need that sort of thing). Laughter, even if it’s forced laughter, is good medicine for your body – increased dopamine and endorphins raise our pain threshold and reduce pain, a trigger in relaxation, an increase in our overall sense of well-being, reduction in stress hormones and measured depression.  People who engage in periods of forced or naturally evoked laughter say they feel happier and report feeling more creative, with an increased enjoyment of social interactions.

Another one of the things I love about my nephew, Aaron.  He and his long time buddy, Tim, have always been able to have a good belly laugh at those really bad jokes you find on Rocket pops – you know, the red, white, and blue popsicles?  I’ve always thought that, if we are able to be “self-entertaining units,” we will live wonderful lives, no matter how long our lives may be.

Look for more posts to make you laugh this week, and perhaps a few profound sayings about laughter . . .  In the meantime, here’s to finding some Hasya in your yoga this week.  Don’t take it too seriously – embody the light of spring!