How & Why You Should Participate in Our November Gratitude Tree

Every November we practice gratitude by making our Yoga in ME gratitude tree. This is a great and very simple way to bring a little gratitude into your life. Participating is easy and the the end result is a beautiful example of a collection of things that our community is grateful for! Here’s how you can participate:

1. Come in for class! We have lots of leaves all cut out and ready to go!

 

2.  Write something you’re grateful for on the leaf!

3.  Add it to the tree!

4.  Watch the gratitude multiply!

Keep coming in throughout the month of November and watch the tree fill up. It is so fun to watch the gratitude multiply and to have tangible example of the many things that we have to be thankful for! Plus, practicing gratitude is good for you and is a great way to spread love and kindness in our community and beyond.

We look forward to this tradition every year and we hope that you will join us for this fun practice. You are encouraged to participate every time you come in for class! You don’t have to write something different every time you come in, but you can if you want to! We love seeing all of the things that our members are thankful for every year and enjoy thinking about what we are thankful for too.

Too often, we are encouraged to consume and be unhappy with what we have during the holidays. We find that the gratitude tree tradition is a great way to feel even better about what we already have. As our teacher often says, how lucky are we?

We hope that you will join us in continuing this fun and meaningful tradition!

What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below, or come in and fill out some leaves!

Looking For Your Community? Join Us For Coffee, Conversation, at Yoga in ME

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are social animals by nature. Although we naturally exist in communities, many of us spend a lot of our time alone. Further, the technology and devices that are supposed to connect us to others actually make us feel left out, lonely and even more isolated.

Finding a community of like-minded individuals is a great way to combat loneliness. At Yoga in ME, we want all of our members to feel welcomed and included. Sometimes, coming in for class is enough. But it’s also nice to have opportunities outside of class to connect and get to know other people at the studio.

Recently, we have noticed that our members really enjoy and value these opportunities to connect with each other outside of class. For this reason, we have decided to start offering more of these opportunities for FREE.

Starting in November, we will have Coffee & Conversation every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 10:15. (Immediately following the Boomer class.)

Stay after the Boomer Yoga class, or just stop in to socialize after class. We will  provide coffee, tea, and some light snacks. No registration or purchase necessary!

At the conclusion of our teacher training, we interviewed our graduates about the training. We asked graduates what they would say if recommending the training to a friend. Nearly every graduate mentioned the feeling community that they experienced at Yoga in ME.

In fact, many of our graduates said they had never felt like they fit in to a community before. The community at Yoga in ME was the first time some of our trainees really felt they belonged.

This was a huge wake up call for us. Our hope is that each and every one of you also feels valued and supported by the community here at Yoga and ME. If you don’t, please, please, please let us know if there is anything that we can do to make you feel more at home here. We are always open to feedback and happy to provide a listening ear.

If you love our community and/OR you want to feel a little more at home here, we hope that you will join us for Coffee and Conversation! You never know who you might make a connection with.

What is your favorite way to connect with the Yoga in ME community?

4 Reasons To Join The Yoga in ME Book Club

Have you ever thought about joining a book club? Sounds fun, right? But too often reading is not a priority in our busy lives. In fact, 1 in 4 Americans did not read a book last year! Not to mention, getting together with friends often becomes one of those “I’ll call you…” situations where it just never ends up actually happening.

But don’t let all the discourage you. Yoga in ME is starting a book club! Our first meeting is in December. Here are 4 reasons why you should join:

It’s FREE!

It is completely free to join and you can choose buy or borrow the book. All you need to do is read (at least some of) the book and show up. For our first book club, we are reading Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. We have copies available for purchase at the studio or you can get it at a local bookstore, on Amazon, or borrow from the library or a friend!

A great chance to encourage yourself to read.

As mentioned earlier, 1 in 4 Americans did not read a book last year. If you struggle with finding the motivation to read, this might be just the push that you need! I always find that a deadline makes me much more motivated to accomplish my goals.

There will be food!

We’ll be providing some light refreshments and attendees are encouraged to bring a pot-luck dish to share. As always, tea and water are available free of charge!

Community!

When questioned about what they love most about the studio, almost every person I talk to says: the COMMUNITY. Joining us for our book club and pot luck is a great time to connect with the Yoga in ME community and get a chance to interact with other members outside of class. Some of us might even wear “normal” clothes! (Read: not yoga clothes).

There you have it, 4 great reasons to join the Yoga in ME bookclub! We hope to see you there!

 

FIND OUT THE NEXT BOOK GROUP DATE

 

 

5 Opportunities to Practice Gratitude at Yoga in ME This Holiday Season

The opportunity to practice gratitude at Yoga in ME  is a very important part of our community. At the end of many of our classes, we offer an opportunity to take a moment of gratitude. Often, I will invite students to think of one thing that they are grateful for today. Practicing gratitude is a great way to improve your interpersonal relationships and spread positivity to others in your life. Practicing gratitude can also bring numerous benefits to YOU. Read more on the “selfish” benefits of practicing gratitude in this post.

Some of you may be thinking “well, that’s all great… but what does practicing gratitude even mean?”. There are many small ways to practice gratitude. Some of these include: keeping a gratitude journal, verbally expressing gratitude to loved ones, or even just thinking about things you are grateful for on a regular basis. Another wonderful way to practice gratitude is by giving back to your community.

If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate gratitude in your life, here are 5 opportunities to practice gratitude at Yoga in ME this holiday season:

1) Join us at our Veterans’ Day Outreach and Fundraising Event

Grateful for our veterans and want to support our FREE Yoga for Veterans Classes? Curious about the class? Now is your chance to try it out and/or ask questions – or just show up to show your support for this life changing program. This is a once a year opportunity for friends and family to join the class to see what it’s like – or to bring a veteran(s) you know that might enjoy their first class more if you were there to support them.

2) Come Practice Gratitude at Yoga in ME at our Annual Thanksgiving Day Gratitude Class

Take some time to care for yourself and cultivate gratitude before the distractions take over the mind. You may notice the rest of the day is truly something you can feel grateful for. Any donation appreciated.

3) Participate in Our Fall Food Drive

How lucky are we to have the opportunity to give back to others? Each year, we celebrate Yoga in ME’s birthday at our fall food drive. During this week long event, we collect a trunk load of food and other items (or more!) to donate to Footprints Food Pantry in Kittery. More information about this fun annual event coming soon!

4) Monthly Give Back Yoga Nidra

At this class, we support a different cause each month. We are grateful to Erica for donating her time to host this class and for the opportunity to give back to some awesome local organizations. We especially love to support local causes that our members are involved in, like End 68 Hours of Hunger. If you are active in a local non-profit please talk to Erica about how this class can help you!

5) Weekly By-Donation Community Class

We are so grateful to our teacher trainees for donating their time to teach this class and Rachel for volunteering to coordinate it! This class is a great opportunity to show your appreciation to these teachers (all you have to do is show up!). It is also an opportunity to support our FREE yoga for veterans program by donating.

Bonus opportunity: participate in our November Gratitude Tree! Read more about that on the blog soon!

We hope that you will join us for as many of these opportunities as possible. These are just a few of the ways that we are practicing gratitude at Yoga in ME this season. How are you practicing gratitude? Let us know in the comments!

Power Outage? A Great Opportunity To Practice Yoga!

Yoga in ME is currently experiencing a power outage. At the time this post was written there were 484,000 customers without power in Maine. For some of us, it sounds like it might be a while before it comes back. This is a little bit daunting. But, bear with me on this one, this power outage is also a great opportunity to practice yoga.

How, you might ask? I can’t do fully bound lotus without heat! Well, you don’t have to! At Yoga in ME, we think it’s very important to remember that the practice of yoga is not just doing the asanas (or postures). According to the yoga sutras, Yoga is: the attempt to still the fluctuations of the mind.

In other words, all you have to do to be practicing yoga is put effort towards being present in the moment.

That’s right, folks. As long as you are present with what you are doing in the moment, you are doing yoga. This applies no matter whether what you are doing is a yoga posture, meditation, or something more everyday and mundane like folding laundry or preparing a meal.

For some of us, a power outage is our worst nightmare.  Basic things that we have come to rely on like heat, running water (if you have a well) and refrigeration no longer function. This can be very stressful and even dangerous in some circumstances. But a power outage is also a great opportunity to slow down. We are forced to unplug, and be present with what we are doing.

So how exactly does this work?

Well, when the power is out, it simply isn’t possible to be reading an article on your phone while watching something on TV and also playing solitaire on your tablet. In other words, we are forced to do fewer (and often quieter) things at a time. Instead of engaging in multiple activities at once, we might spend our time doing something like reading a book or playing a board game with the family. We are less stimulated and more able to be present with the people around us. THIS is yoga!

Not only are we forced to unplug and do fewer things at once, we are also forced to do many everyday things “the old fashioned way.”. Read, slower and more mindfully. Doing the dishes becomes a much more mindful task when you have to heat water on the camp stove. Washing and rinsing in basins rather than doing everything in the quick instant hot water of the sink!

Are you practicing yoga during the power outage? Tell us how in the comments!

Laughter Yoga: The Art of Laughing for No Particular Reason.

Laughter Yoga: The Art of Laughing for No Particular Reason Written By: Rachel D.A.

Laughter Yoga was really my first experience with Yoga. Wait…What? Laughter Yoga? “What the heck is that?” you might ask. That would be a very valid question.

Laughter Yoga is a series of exercises that promote unconditional laughter.

Yup, it’s silly, very silly, and it IS meant to be. There is really very little Asana involved, however the yoga part comes from the deep breathing involved to keep the oxygen flowing through the body while you are having so much fun. To me, it is another form of Pranayama (a basic aspect of the yoga practice). So, your next question might be “WHY?”

Why would you want to spend time laughing at nothing at all?

There are actually so many reasons to laugh this way. They say that Laughter is the Best Medicine and research is finding that that is very true. More and more studies support the positive effect that laughter has on the body, mind and spirit. In the 1960’s a well known author named Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a severe immune-deficiency disease. This disease left him in extreme pain and unable to function.

At the time there was very little the medical field could do for him and no hope for recovery. He found that when people visited him and made him laugh through funny stories, movies and jokes, he felt better for awhile. He created a rule for all his visitors that they must make him laugh if they wanted to spend time with him. Eventually he did make a full recovery that he credited, in large part, to laughter.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the benefits:

  • Helps control blood pressure and heart disease
  • Boosts the Immune System
  • Alleviates pain by releasing endorphins and serotonin as well as other “feel good” hormones
  • Suppresses the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. In fact they have found that laughter can reduce cortisol in your system by 24% as opposed to medication (4%) or meditation (4 – 5%).
  • Makes it easier to cope with challenge and conflict
  • Defuses fear, anger and boredom
  • Helps build teamwork
  • And possibly the most helpful of all is that 10 minutes of laughter will yield about 2 hours of being pain free

Another advantage is that it makes you vulnerable.

Many might argue that vulnerability is not an advantage and are afraid to be vulnerable, yet, according to Brene Brown, vulnerability is the key to living completely in the present moment – that wonderful place where creativity, joy and hope thrive.

When I talk to people about laughter and it’s benefits, many people react with “Oh, I love to laugh! I laugh all the time.” I always say “that’s great! Keep it up”. But most don’t realize that when you laugh at something funny, like a joke or a funny story, you only laugh for about 20 seconds.

The truth is that it takes about 10 minutes or more of laughter to bring you to the place where you can reap the benefits listed above. That’s why Unconditional Laughter (Laughter Yoga) was developed. It doesn’t hinge on something funny, you just keep laughing at nothing at all. Don’t worry, a good Yoga Laughter Leader will help.

One of the most wonderful things about this practice is that you don’t even have to laugh for “real”.  Your body will get just as many benefits from fake laughter as it will from real laughter.

Keep an eye out for more on the benefits of laughter and how to incorporate more of it into your life. And a  Laughter Yoga class.

5 Ways Practicing Gratitude Benefits YOU

Practicing gratitude is an important part of our community here at Yoga in ME. At the end of many of our classes, we offer an opportunity to take a moment of gratitude. Often, I will invite students to silently think of one thing that they are grateful for today. Practicing gratitude is a great way to improve your interpersonal relationships and spread positivity to others in your life. But did you know that according to this (very detailed) article (and a lot of research) practicing gratitude also has “selfish” benefits too?

5 Ways Practicing Gratitude Benefits YOU. Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve:

1) Your physical health.

That’s right, people who practice gratitude are actually healthier! Not only are the sick less frequently, they also sleep better! People who practice gratitude tend to exercise more, have more energy and even live longer!

2) Your emotional wellbeing

People who practice gratitude have been found to be more relaxed, resilient, and to just generally feel better. If you are more grateful for what you have, you may be less jealous of others. You also tend to remember things in a more positive light! That’s right, being grateful in the moment can change how you remember something!

3) Your social wellbeing

People who practice gratitude tend to be kinder and more social. Consequently, they have more relationships. Their relationships also tend to be deeper and healthier. Practicing gratitude is even related to having a happier marriage!

4) Your career

If you practice gratitude, you are more likely to make better decisions, manage better, and be more productive! People who are grateful also network better and are more likely to achieve their goals. Sounds like someone I would want working for me! No wonder people who practice gratitude have better careers!

5) Your personality

Yup, practicing gratitude might even make you a better person! Grateful people are more optimistic, spiritual, and feel better about themselves. They are also less likely to be materialistic or self-centered.

The end result is: practicing gratitude can make you feel pretty good!

Improvement in all of these areas of your life contributes to improve your overall happiness! Yes, practicing gratitude has been show to correlate with increase happiness! So why not try it out… it can’t hurt. And it most certainly can help! How are you practicing gratitude in your everyday life?

Lydia’s Famous Quinoa Black Bean Chili Recipe

Some of you might not know that I LOVE to cook. My favorite method of cooking is to make things up as I go along, and usually my chili recipe is no different. It drives Travis crazy when I’m trying to explain how to make of my recipes (“How much of this do I add?” “Enough” “As much as you need” etc.) But I do have a few recipes that I come back to a variation of over and over.

One of these is my “famous” Quinoa Black Bean Chili Recipe. I make this at home a few times a month in the cooler parts of the year. I also tend to make it for most pot lucks or special events I’m cooking for like the Keep South Berwick Warm Soup Supper. This chili recipe is great for these events because it’s a crowd pleaser, not too spicy, as well as vegan and common allergen-free option.

If you were lucky enough to join us for our 1 day retreat, you already got to try this delicious recipe. If you didn’t make it – you’ll have another chance at the Keep South Berwick Warm Soup Supper (Wednesday November 1 at 5pm).

Want to try it at home? Check out the delicious recipe below:

 

My Yoga Life – A Work in Progress

My Yoga Life – A Work in Progress

Written By Rachel D.A.

Three years ago, I was, mostly sitting in a chair at home watching TV all day long. I did have an office for business that I visited a few days a week, yet mostly I was just sitting around even there. My whole body hurt pretty much 100% if the time. I was very overweight and was walking with a cane. One of the reasons I spent so much time in a chair was that I could barely get up from the chair. When I did, it was painful.

I shared office space with a Chiropractor. At the time she had some patients (a mother and daughter) who owned a yoga studio down the street. The mother, Nancy Garnhart, kept inviting me to try yoga, “Just try it” she said. She even offered me a free class. I was reluctant and told her why. I explained that I could barely get up from a chair, how was I going to get up from the floor? Nancy kept saying, “All you need to do, to do yoga, is to breathe.” Well, I was sure that I was still breathing.

I knew that I had to do something because, essentially, I was just sitting around waiting to die and while I was no longer young in years, I was too young to feel this way. That sounds extreme, yet, at that time, that was how I felt. I had no direction and couldn’t figure out how to get out of the rut that I was in. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to take my free pass and give yoga life a try.

I’m not going to lie. When I first started, I hated holding a posture for 5 eternal breaths. I couldn’t handle the perspiration that  poured down my face burning my eyes. I basically felt like a baby elephant caught in a ditch.

For some reason, I kept going and kept going. I didn’t really care so much how I looked, or even how uncomfortable I was. The thing that I noticed was that afterward I felt better. So, I kept going and going and going.

Now, three years later, I no longer use a cane or sticks to walk with, I am about 85% pain free. I released 21” and 3 clothing sizes and have learned how to eat mindfully (which is the key to weight loss and maintenance). And I have learned so much more.

I have heard people say that yoga saved their lives. I’m not sure I can entirely claim that. What I do know to be true is that yoga has changed my life forever. It is true that most come to yoga for the physical aspect first. Often, they stay for all the other benefits.

For myself, the yoga life benefits are vast. Surely the calming of the mind is helping me to balance my life. Going deeper with practice is also having a positive effect. I am almost at the end of my 200 Hour Teacher Training Class. I feel that, at my mature age, I have new reasons to go forward and thrive. Now, I am looking forward to getting certified and teaching what I know about yoga to others.

~Rachel

 

Top 3 Reasons People “Can’t Do Yoga” (And Why They Should Do It Anyway)

Whenever I get asked the age old question “What do you do for work?” My answer is: “I own a yoga studio!” Sometimes people are excited and want to know more – but more often, people’s faces fall. “Oh, I can’t do yoga” they say… followed by a reason why. These responses are so discouraging to me. Not just because I want people to come to my business. But also because people think that they can’t participate in this wonderfully healing practice for exactly the reasons that they SHOULD be doing this practice.

Here are the 3 most common reasons people give me that they can’t do yoga:

I can’t do yoga: I’m not flexible.

Guess what! Most of our students aren’t flexible. In fact, I probably have the tightest hamstrings in the room. Yoga is not just for people who can already put their foot behind their head. People who can’t touch their toes need to be here because yoga can help BUILD flexibility!

Strength and flexibility are both extremely important for our health, especially as we get older. And regular yoga practice is one of the best ways I know of to increase flexibility. Furthermore, “flexibility” can mean very different things to different bodies. Or we might be very flexible in some areas or not others. A well rounded yoga practice might not get you touching your toes in 2 weeks, but the best way to start working towards that goal is to start practicing!

I can’t do yoga, yoga is for young, skinny people!

Sorry, this excuse isn’t going to work on me either. First of all, most of our students at Yoga in ME are 50+! Most of us have regular human being bodies here, too. Second, yoga can age right along with you. Here are Yoga in ME, we base a lot of our classes on a sequence of postures called Boomer Yoga (taught to us by Beryl Bender Birch). The Boomer Yoga sequence is athletic, dynamic, and also takes into account that we can’t do all of the things that we could when we were 15. And that’s okay!

Furthermore, physical activity continues to be extremely (if not even more) important as we get older! Regular physical activity keeps us healthier. Plus, yoga improves balance, flexibility and even bone density! Yoga is also great place to make connections with other like-minded people and reduce stress.

I can’t do yoga, I don’t have time.

An old Zen proverb tells us: “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” The same principle can be applied to practicing yoga. If you don’t have time for it, you probably need it even more! Busyness is an unfortunate plague in our modern society. Most of us are on the run from sun up to sun down (and some of us all night too. And we are STRESSED out.

Did you know that yoga is great for stress and anxiety? Find out more about our upcoming series: Yoga for Stress and Anxiety here. Even if you don’t have time to come in for a class, these practices can be extremely beneficial. Sitting in meditation for as little as 3-5 minutes a day can have a huge positive impact on stress. If you’re looking to get started with a home practice you can schedule a private lesson with me to learn more about yoga and some tools that you can take home with you. Another option is to read about these techniques online or in books and start a home practice on your own!

Before you started yoga, did you think you couldn’t do it? Share why – and your experience when you did come to class in the comments below!