Our Letter To The Yoga in ME Community – 2017

Dear Yoga in ME Family,

Happy New Year! Thank you for being a part of this truly unique and amazing community. You might have noticed, but owning a yoga studio is a labor of love. We aren’t driving fancy cars or living in mansions. We might not always have the best and the newest everything.

But this and every year, we are grateful for:

  • A Roof over our Heads
  • Our Health
  • Heat
  • Electricity, Hot Water, Warm Coats
  • Each Other
  • Our Wonderful Staff
  • The Vibrant and Inclusive Yoga in ME Community
  • Getting out of Credit Card Debt (yeah Lydia!)
  • The Privilege to be able to GIVE BACK to our Community through our fall food drive, FREE yoga for Veterans, and Yoga for 12 Steps of Recovery.

Thank you all for being a part of this amazing community.

We are so grateful for each and every one of you. In 2018, we strive to continue to be inclusive, REAL, friendly, and down-to-Earth. We promise to offer more and more free community events, and to continue to provide quality yoga for EVERYONE and EVERY age, race, class, body, gender.

This is no small thing.

It takes time and effort and we do not always do it as well as we might like, but we are working to be a more welcoming community each and every day. Because it is that important to us. Every time a student tells us that they feel welcomed at Yoga in ME, it makes everything we do WORTH IT. We know what it feels like to not fit it – we have both been there more than we’d like to say.

This is just one of the reasons that we are so committed to creating a space where our members feel like they belong!

Every day at Yoga in ME, we do the one thing that sets us apart from most other businesses, we intentionally cultivate mindfulness, community, and inner peace. We live in a world filled with activity where we are bombarded with information without pause and we are constantly told we need to have more and be more. Classes at Yoga in ME are, at their heart,  an opportunity to gather together as a community and cultivate a quiet mind and gratitude for what we are and what we have.

Yoga in ME is a community that is on a journey. We do not have all the answers,  but together we practice gratitude, we learn acceptance, and we seek to serve the needs of our community.

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you joy, peace, happiness, and the ability to get through all of life’s challenges, big and small. Peace on Earth!

Warmly,
Lydia and Nancy and the Yoga in ME team

Friendly Beasts – What A Children’s Christmas Pageant Can Teach Us As Yogis

This past Sunday, my children performed in the Christmas pageant at church. I am not generally an extremely religious person. However, watching my girls in the Christmas pageant turned out to be a very moving experience. I was left more than a little teary-eyed. There’s something about the earnestness with which the children performed the story and sang the songs that embodied the essence of purity and good.

The religious nature of the story aside, the songs and scenes that they performed all covered meaningful topics. Things like: kindness, love, and inclusion. Things that are so desperately needed in these current times. Watching this, I felt hope.

I left the pageant, remembering the carol sung by the animals in the stable after Jesus’s birth: “Friendly Beasts”. Each group of animals: the donkey, cow, sheep, and doves sang about what they gave to baby Jesus when he was born. Their manger, straw, wool, carrying Mary, and even singing him to sleep. In his presence, even the animals were moved to stand beside this baby and emulate his “kind and good” nature.

This song, sung by innocent children, reminded me that we need to be an example. If we are kind and good, those in our presence will be touched by this and perhaps they will be moved to be kind and good as well.

At this time of year, when over-consumption, selfishness, and self-centered behavior are rampant, it is important to remember that our actions do matter. Whatever your beliefs, the Christmas story is a good reminder that how we treat others matters. Watching my children sing about giving selflessly, reminded me that I need to be their example of this behavior. In fact, all of us Yogis need to be an example of this behavior.

There is no guarantee that our children will see positive examples of being “kind and good” in the media or in their everyday lives. We hope that they will, but there is no guarantee. We are responsible to live our lives, as yogis and humans, in a way that includes being kind and good. If we live our lives in a way that we hope our children and those that we meet will be touched by, and even emulate, we are truly living our yoga.

In the comments: please tell us one way you are spreading kindness this holiday season! We hope that you will join us!

 

Disclaimer: Yoga in ME does not ascribe to or endorse any one religious tradition. Rather, we are inclusive and welcoming of all beliefs.

What the Prop!? Adding Props To Your Practice

Get Your Prop On!

The use of props during a yoga practice has always been a topic of yogic discussion. Introduced to modern yoga by BKS Iyengar, props were traditionally utilized to add support. Today various types of props can we seen in almost every studio across the country, such as:

  • Yoga Mats
  • Yoga Blocks
  • Bolsters
  • Straps
  • Eye Pillows (sometimes with essential oil for aromatherapy)
  • Yoga Towels (popular in Bikram, or Hot Yoga)
  • Yoga Chairs
  • Yoga Trapezes

Some classes, such as Restorative or Yin, practice exclusively with multiple  props to encourage complete support and relaxation. Yoga props, tools, toys, whatever you label them, all have one characteristic in common and that is to create a stable foundation.

For those who believe using props are for the weak or for beginners forget that they use a prop every time they practice: their yoga mat.

Although the yoga mat may be the first and most popular of yoga props, blocks, bolsters/blankets and straps are now becoming as mainstream as yoga itself. From a beginner’s standpoint, props can alleviate physical strain, reduce fear and even develop a sense of confidence at the start of their yoga journey.  For those who have been practicing longer may also see a benefit to incorporating props into their yoga by getting deeper into an pose (asana) or exploring a new pose all together. By definition, yoga is the unification of the mind and the body, and anything that enhances our mind-body union should be appreciated, even the yoga prop.

Your Practice, Your Props

Similar to the yoga mat, the yoga prop industry has grown exponentially. There are now hundreds of companies making thousands of props each year, thus making the decision-making process just as overwhelming. As enlightened yogis, we know that there is no wrong way to practice yoga, just like there is no wrong prop to use. Personal preference should be the determining factor when practicing with props. One may prefer the sturdiness to a cork block, while another may enjoy the comfort provided by a foam block, and none of them are wrong. The best part about using yoga props is discovering what works for YOUR body, because no one else can tell you what feels right for YOU.

From the most strong and flexible to the least, a strategically positioned yoga prop has the ability to elevate the physical and spiritual experiences of a yoga practice.

Your usage of props is as special and unique as your yoga practice. So, next time you are practicing at home, or in a studio, try adding a new prop and see what unfolds!

The Art of Walking Meditation

Does the idea of sitting cross-legged, alone with your thoughts, for long periods of time sound daunting to you? If this visualization already creates anxiety or unease for you, then meditation may have always been intimidating or downright unbearable for you. And that’s okay. Meditation, like yoga, has progressed from the long hours of sitting alone in the Himalayan mountains chanting ancient Mantras, to being woven into daily tasks, such as driving or doing the laundry.

Any action in your life can be performed with a meditative mind, thus cultivating peace in everything you do.

A basic, yet profound method of active meditation is a ‘walking meditation’, which emphasizes focus on the physical experience of walking, paying attention to the meticulous component of each individual step. With constant practice, walking meditation may enhance your ability to remain mindful by increasing your focus and awareness in any given moment. It is recommended to practice a walking meditation for ten minutes a day- which can be walking around the grocery store, taking your dog for a walk or right in the office!

Finding A Location

This practice can be done outside with Mother Nature supporting you, or inside any building- just be aware your slow pacing back and forth may cause some curiosity. Wherever you are practicing, locate a lane clear of debris or obstacles that may be distracting to your walking.

Walk Your Walk

Once you established a safe lane for movement, begin walking 10-15 steps in one direction, then pause and breath consciously for a brief moment. When you’re ready, rotate your body and walk back 10-15 steps in the other direction, again pausing at the end and breathing. Continue these calculated steps back and forth until you feel as though you completed your meditation.

Step By Step

The goal of ‘walking meditation’ is to deliberately think about actions you may subconsciously perform every day. Breaking down the mechanics of each step may feel silly or even awkward, but that heightened internal awareness is building mindfulness with each little step. According to mindfulness expert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, there are four basic components to each step:

  1. The lifting of the foot;
  2. The forward movement of the foot;
  3. The placing of the foot, heel first;
  4. The subtle shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes remain on the floor, then repeat the cycle.

Integrating Walking Meditation into Your Life

For many people, walking slow with deliberation is an uncomfortable sensation, yet with effort and non-attachment to the results they may find that eventually all of their walking is more conscious and controlled. If your mind begins to wander during your walk, that’s OK- be gentle on yourself and call your attention back to the next step you are taking and repeat the components of each step.

The benefits of walking meditation affect us internally as well as externally, taking us out of auto-pilot and tuning us into the present moment.

By enhancing our mental and physical awareness, we also increase our sense of appreciation and enjoyment in every moment as life unfolds around us.    

 

Sources: Jon Kabat-Zinn, PH D., Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School