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!
Summer is an excellent time to learn something new! We are offering a series of summer intensive courses — an opportunity to learn something new, or dive more deeply into your practice. Here’s what we have in store for you!
ASANA AND BEYOND: Diving Deeper into Yoga (Friday, July 22, 5:30 p.m. – Sunday, July 24, 4:15, ) 17 total hours COST: 238.00
Have you ever wondered about deepening your yoga practice? Join Kristine for a mini-retreat that will take your practice deeper as you learn more about yoga, asana, meditation, and the rich philosophy of yoga.
ONE DAY ASANA INTENSIVE: (August 3) / COST $70.00
Take a day to deepen your knowledge of yoga asana. This workshop will focus on exploring selected poses in depth.
August 3 (Wednesday)
10:00 – 11:30 AM: Yoga as It Is
12:30 – 4:00 PM: Asana In Detail
INTENSIVE: EXPLORING ANATOMY AND SUBTLE ENERGY (Friday, Aug. 5, 5:30 – Sunday, Aug. 7, 5:30) 16 total hours/COST: $225.00
This introductory workshop will focus on basic anatomy and introduce the “subtle energy” systems of yoga (the nadis and chakras). Designed for yoga students, the workshop will explore the ways yoga asana, meditation, and pranayama effect the systems of the body.
MINI- RETREAT: LIVING A “YOGIC LIFESTYLE” (August 13, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) COST: $70.00
Yoga is much more than a series of body postures. In its fullest expression yoga is a discipline, a path, and ultimately a way of life. This retreat is an introduction to some of the components of yoga as a “lifestyle.” The retreat will include yoga asana, an introduction to yogic philosophy (with an opportunity for discussion and questions), breath-work or “pranayama,” and a fuller conversation about what it means to adapt yoga as an approach toward healthy living. This is the first in a series of mini-retreats that will be offered on this topic at Aloft Studios.
DAY OF MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS (Sunday, August 14, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)/COST: $70.00
The day will consist of alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation with instruction. The day be held in Noble Silence which means that participants should not engage in conversation or socializing and that cell phones should be turned off and put away. There will be opportunities for questions and answers after talks and instructions. Participants should bring a lunch.
LABOR DAY WEEKEND RETREAT: LEADING THE YOGIC LIFESTYLE (Part 2) (Saturday, September 3, 8:00 a.m.-Monday, Sept. 5, 3:00 p.m.) 18 HOURS TOTAL/ COST: $175.00
NOTE: You do not have to have attended part one to attend part two.
Yoga is much more than a series of body postures. In its fullest expression, yoga is a discipline, a path, and ultimately a way of life. This retreat is an introduction to some of the components of yoga as a “lifestyle.” The retreat will include yoga asana, an introduction to yogic philosophy (with an opportunity for discussion and questions), breath-work or “pranayama,” and a fuller conversation about what it means to adapt yoga as an approach toward healthy living. The intent of this retreat is to not only deepen your practice, but also to enhance your understanding of yoga and support you in finding your path as a life-long practitioner. This is the second in a series of mini-retreats that will be offered on this topic at Aloft Studios. You do not have to have attended previous retreats to participate.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY OF THESE PROGRAMS, CONTACT KRISTINE THROUGH THIS WEBSITE OR AT firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.
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….”
Come dance with your friends! Experience the freedom and joy that is Nia. Strengthen your body, work out your mind, exercise your creativity, engage your spirit, have fun! Let your inner dancer come out to play!
Mondays at 8:30 a.m. or 1/2 Nia and 1/2 yoga on Mondays at 4:30
Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m.
Wednesdays at 8:30 or 4:30
Fridays at 8:30
Nia is dance designed for EveryBody, from “newbie” to dance enthusiast. It’s a great whole body workout, and the music is fantastic!
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 think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know [the Sacred], to love and serve [the Sacred], and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right.” ― Anne Lamott
“I would only believe in a god who understood how to dance.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche
Whether we dance to laugh and play, to let go of heartache and tension, for exercise, to find ourselves, the Divine Light, or all of the above at the same time, it’s a good thing! Nia: Wednesdays 4:30 – 5:30; Thursdays 1:00 – 2:00; Nia/Yoga combined into a single class on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:30. And the best part is, you don’t have to actually be able to “dance” at all — just come, ready to move!