Usher in the weekend with an all levels class focused on relaxing the mind and restoring the body. Erin Wittman will lead you through some flow yoga to begin, and then a journey into unwinding and releasing the tension from the week, ending with guided relaxation. What a wonderful way to head into the weekend!
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.
Informational meeting about training coming at the end of July – please leave a reply on this site and Kristine will send you more information and put you on the “interested students” email list.
Anyone up for yoga teacher training? Aloft School of Yoga will once again be offering a 200-hour yoga teacher certification training program at the studio. Some of the modules in this training will also be offered as workshops available to the yoga student interested in deepening his/her practice, as well as to yoga teachers who are pursuing CEUs.
Aloft School of Yoga is a certified Yoga Teacher Training School, registered with Yoga Alliance. This training guides you through yoga asana, philosophy, pranayama (breath work), anatomy, meditation, pedagogy, teaching to particular needs and populations, an exploration of many facets of becoming a yoga teacher. Successful completion of the training will enable the student to register with Yoga Alliance as a yoga teacher at the 200 hour level. for more information about the training, please contact Kristine through the contact button on the website, via email at email@example.com, or via text or phone (509) 336-1442.
The training is very focused on giving the teachers in training a sustained mentoring approach toward learning to teach yoga. We address specific interests of the trainees in teaching yoga to specific populations with specific concerns, as well as teaching multi-level yoga in a class setting.
We will be having an informational gathering about preparing for the training, costs, and timing of the training, so please let me know if you are interested in attending and I can send you more details or answer questions.
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.
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:
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
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….”
I 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.
Let’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.
I 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 . . .