OWY Blog

  • Ethical Fashion Part 3: Fashion for Humanity

    FASHION FOR HUMANITY

    Have you ever asked yourself who made your clothes? 

    In Yoga, we often focus on our heart center. To connect our minds to our bodies, we place our hands near our hearts and breathe. We tune-in to ourselves and synchronize our movement with those around us. 

    The clothes we wear also connect us to the world around us. We don't often recognize it, but how we dress can have a positive or negative impact on others. 

    WHAT WE WEAR MATTERS

    We often think of slavery as occurring in the past. However, almost all the mainstream clothing we wear has been made at least in-part by fellow humans working in forced conditions that are demoralizing, unsanitary and unsafe. 

    Our collective demand for fresh fashion at low prices drives a slave market we rarely or ever see, but we have the opportunity to alter our course. 

    MADE BY CHILDREN

    The devestating truth about child labor can be difficult to acknowledge and painful to consider. 

    Worldwide, about 170 million children work for the fashion industry. Often lured from severe poverty at home and coerced into deplorable working conditions, they are used for their malleablity and small bodies to perform tedious tasks, including transferring pollen from one cotton plant to another, embroidering, sequining or making pleats. 

    FASHION WITH A HEART 

    “No one wants to contribute to slavery, slavery-like conditions and child labor, but when it comes to fashion, these practices are so universal, it is hard to know how to avoid them or what to do.”Shannon Thomas, OWY Co-Owner, BA, CHC, E-RYT-200, YACEP 

    Open Way Yoga wants to help you figure this out, we are dedicated to leading with heart and offer ways to access ethical fashion.  Our fair-trade certified brands are transparent about their supply chain.  We are here to provide compassionate answers to the question of who made your clothes. 

    Part 1 of our 5 part series:  Introduction to Ethical Fashion: What and Why
    Part 2 of our 5 part series:  Ethical Fashion Part 2:  Eco-Fashion for the Body

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

  • Ethical Fashion Part 2: Eco-Fashion for the Body

    ECO-FASHION FOR THE BODY

    Siddhasana / Siddha Yoni Asana in Green Apple Bamboo Sweats

    “Your skin is a massive respiration organ and has the tremendous responsibility of working with your sacred breath to keep you clean and pure.” -World Healing Academy 

    Every yoga practitioner has had that time when they wore the wrong outfit to Yoga - too loose, too tight, not breathable. Practice is distracting at best in the wrong clothes. Clothing has the power to shape any experience. It can make us feel attractive, inspired, even smarter, but not all clothing is created equal and what we choose to wear can either help or hurt our health. 

    THE DARK SIDE OF FASHION

    Collectively, we have become aware of the importance of what we put into our bodies, in terms of how we eat and the toiletries and beauty products we use, but the quality of the clothing we wear slips our mind, despite countless hours of interaction. 

    Scientific studies that focus on the dark side of the fashion industry are rare, but available research confirms that the clothes we wear can get under our skin and cause health problems. That formaldehyde and other chemicals are harmful to our health seems obvious. Yet, many clothes have been marinated in chemicals known to cause illness and even death - including formaldehyde, pesticides, flame retardant, heavy metals and some dyes and glues. 

    THE WAY TO WELLNESS

    While the reality seems dismal, moving in the direction of eco-conscious fashion is possible. Here are a few rules to live by when purchasing clothes: 

    1. Choose clothes made of plant-based fibers, such as organic cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp that contain natural dyes.
    2. Avoid clothes that must be washed separately or with special features, like “wrinkle-free” or “dirt-repellant.” 
    3. Buy vintage and used clothing.  Used clothing is more affordable and stripped of irritants from time and wear. 
    4. Connect with local, reputable retailers like Open Way Yoga for further ideas. 

    THE BRIGHT SIDE

    Most clothes contain toxins that we would never knowingly expose ourselves to, but because symptoms can be subtle, we willingly dress in them. Those with sensitive skin may experience a host of issues while standard medical tests suggest over and over that nothing is wrong. The solution may be within reach.

    We at Open Way Yoga want everyone to be able to afford to consider their health when considering their clothing, so we are dedicated to providing up-cycled items that are stripped of most irritants, in addition to top-notch, eco-conscious lines like Synergy, Green Apple and Manduka.  (These hyper-links take you driectly to each company's web-pages that describe their ethical practices.)

    We are here to open the way to a best yoga outfit that is as good for you as it is fashionable.

    Part 1 of our 5 part series:  Introduction to Ethical Fashion: What and Why
    Part 3 of our 5 part series:  Ethical Fashion Part 3:  Fashion for Humanity

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

  • Introduction to Ethical Fashion - What and Why

    “Ethical fashion is about more than just clothing, it is casting a vote for the type of future you want for the world and the people who live on it.”Synergy Organic Clothing 


    YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR
    Single acts have the power to change the rhythm of the universe. Yoga practice begins with breath awareness because just one breath impacts the mind, body and spirit. Similarly, the simple act of choosing what to wear each day has the power to move the world.
     
    Over this festive season of giving, Open Way Yoga will contemplate Eco-Fashion and why what you wear matters, offering information about how your clothing choices affect the body, all living beings and our planet.
     
    THREE REASONS WHY THE ECO-FASHION MOVEMENT IS NECESSARY 
    1. Health: Non-organic, mass-produced clothing is treated with toxic dyes and chemicals that are hazardous to health, compromising wellness and contributing to medical disorders.
     
    2. Humanity: There is no pleasant way to say that high demand for fast fashion—cheap clothing that’s hot for a season—leads to poor working conditions and slavery for those who work in clothing retail and production, both locally and throughout the world.
     
    3. Environment: It is a little known fact the mass manufacture of clothing has a significant impact on Earth and all living beings.  It takes high levels of energy, creates massive amounts of pollution, and uses an unsustainable amount of resources, all of to make which eventually end up decomposing in a landfill.
     
    BE THE CHANGE
    Small steps toward more conscientious fashion choices can make a difference and Open Way Yoga is a good place to start.  We offer products that are manufactured with the future in-mind, including Synergy Organic Clothing, Green Apple and Manduka gear.  We also offer a very affordable, upcycled Open Way Yoga print clothing line.
     
    We invite comments, questions and conversations as we delve into Eco-Fashion over the next several weeks.  We’re here to inspire your next choice in yoga pants.

    Part 2 of our 5 part series:  Ethical Fashion Part 2:  Eco-Fashion for the Body
    Part 3 of our 5 part series:  Ethical Fashion Part 3:  Fashion for Humanity

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

  • Featured Pose: Anahatasana with Prayer Hands

    This month as we focus on gratitude at OWY we are featuring a pose that represents the attitude of gratitude in a very deep way - Anahatasana with Prayer-Hands.  These lovely autumn shots of Mallory in the woods show her working into progressively deeper variations of Anahatasana.  

    1.  Basic Variation - Forehead to the mat

    2.  Chin and Chest to the mat to deepen the heart-opening effect.3.  Press into the fingers and lift the hands to deepen the shoulder stretch.4.  Hands in prayer behind the heart center.5.  Deepen the shoulder stretch with a boster.6.  Further deepen the shoulder stretch with blocks.

    Thank you Mallory Saunders for this lovely photo exploration of Anahata and its variations.

  • Guest Post: Valerie Parker on Gratitude

    OWY teacher Valerie Parker doing a little musing on gratitude as we comtemplate gratitude throughout the month of November.Yoga the “yoke” or the union of the mind, body, and spirit has given me the light in the darkness to see life for what it is to be human, and the ability to be grateful for every moment, the sweet and the sorrow.  Using the eight limbs of yoga to advance my practice, in particular asana and pranayama, I have discovered stillness.  The moment in time between the external and the internal world.  A space in time that allows me to surf and ride the crest of the wave of daily life.   To practice the momentary pause, to wait for an intuitive sense, and ride my impulse and emotions.  After all this is the motion of life in every situation.  A moment in time to view.  The fleeting second to catch an experience in my life journey.

    I am so grateful for my daily practice that gives the gift of time to connect with my true nature, the space and moments to build inner confidence and move forward without judgement of self or others.  And to celebrate the moments of sun rises, sun sets, chirping birds, the scent of autumn and family chaos, daily worries and even fake news.  I am grateful to practice the union and feel the bliss of stillness.

  • Guest Post: Mary Reese Folger on Yoga as a Vehicle for Transformation

    Mary has been teaching at OWY since the beginning.  Over the past 5 years she has been steadily working toward her Introductory I / II Iyengar Yoga certification .  She is now the only Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT) between Lorain County and Michigan.  We're happy to have her offering Iyengar's detail alignment-based classes at OWY. 

    Yoga as a Vehicle for Transformation

    Mary Reese Folger in Revolved Side Angle Pose

    As I contemplate my relationship with yoga, I realize that yoga has me much more than I have it. Yoga has pulled me into its realm in a way that at times still puzzles me.

    One of my favorite definitions of yoga is from the Rig Veda (written around the 15th century BCE) and describes yoga as a chariot that transports to the heavens, a hero who died on the battlefield. When the chariot pierces the sun, the hero is transformed into a divine being.

    Inherent in this definition are the ideas of yoga as a path or process and yoga as a state of being. 

    The path of yoga is practice - disciplined action in the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal realms. We practice yoga on the mat in our poses, our breath work, and in remaining present.  We practice in the ethical realms of individual and social behavior. We practice in the personal and transpersonal realms of concentration, meditation, and absorption.

    Yoga is also a state of being, a present state of wholeness as well as a goal of being one with all that is.

    I think that yoga has pulled me into its realm because in its dual nature of path and state of being, it provides an avenue to explore, experience, and develop some of the core passions of my life. These passions include a search for and experience of the Essential Self, the evolution of consciousness, and the idea that the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness is in the collective. 

    Each limb of yoga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi), when practiced to its fullest capacity, leads one to the Essential Self. But also, each limb of yoga leads to the next limb, evolving to deeper and broader experiences and expressions of consciousness. And finally, as we practice yoga together, we generate a collective energy which is greater than one’s solitary energy. 

    So in a very grounded, embodied way, yoga provides a vehicle for further evolution and transformation. I am grateful to share this vehicle with all of you.

    Mary Reese Folger in a bound half-lotus twist

  • OWY November Intention: Practicing Gratitude

    You may know her as "The Voice of the Firelands"  or the amazing Ashtanga teacher who has been teaching at Mindful Asana in Norwalk... Kelly Rose will be rejoining OWY's teaching staff when we open our Norwalk studio in early January.  She will be teaching the same Tuesday evening class she taught at Mindful Asana and adding a Thursday evening class as well.  We are excited we'll have Kelly Rose and Ashtanga back on the menu at OWY!  Here are some of Kelly Rose's thoughts on gratitude...

    Kelly Rose in Upward Facing Dog and a sneak peek of the new Norwalk Studio Space!

    Practicing Gratitude

    “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Gratitude is something I have always struggled with. I don’t know why.  I was never taught to write thank you notes as a child. I have periodically kept gratitude journals trying to cultivate thankfulness only to give it up feeling silly and just going through the motions.  In my meditation on the idea for this piece, I have come to the conclusion that it is due to my own lack of self worth.  That is because I feel inadequate in my expressions of gratitude… that there was some perfection I was reaching for… some great gesture I should be giving in order to express how thankful I was, I missed opportunities to just say “Thank You.”  I’ve literally written and re-written notes on thank you cards only to throw them away because my handwriting was poor or because I couldn’t create perfectly equal margins. 

    The first person who really taught me how to express gratitude (among so many other things) was my late yoga teacher, Martha Marcom.  I remember doing her a small favor and she wrote me a thank you note.  It was simple. She misspelled words and crossed them out with her pen.  She ran out of room and wrote on the back of the note card.  It wasn’t perfect, it was genuine.  It was refreshing and freeing.  I wrote my first first-draft, imperfect Thank You note to my friend, Anne Marie, for having a beautiful dinner party.  It made her smile and I felt free from my own shame cycle.  

    I’m not perfect in my expressions of gratitude. I’ve felt shame for not writing that Thank You note since them.  I still sometimes chase perfection.  But I’m practicing.  I practice like I practice so many things in my life.  This piece has inspired me to rededicate my thoughts and action to the things I feel grateful for… Getting to my mat.  When my kids sit down for dinner without a fight.  The opportunity to teach again and the community that supports me.  I have learned so much, including the knowledge that the well is infinitely deeper.  

    This is my first draft.  I wrote this without striving for perfection, but to be honest and genuine like Martha taught me.

    Thank you for reading. 

    xo, KRose

    “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

     

  • OWY October Intention: What Scares You?

    In the month where the slow dying back to winter begins, the month of witches and wizards, we at OWY have decided to take a look at What Scares Us.  Our fears only hold power over us when we keep them locked away, so let's bring them up out of the dark and into the light of our awareness.  Over the years my fears have gotten fewer and fewer and the only thing that changed in me is a complete willingness to look closer, look deeper.  Give it a try. 

    Following is a piece on fear written by Mallory Saunders.  Please join the conversation and share some of your own scary thoughts by responding to this post, contributing to our chalkboards (in either studio), or tag us on social media (#owymonthlyintention and #owywhatscaresyou).  
    - Shannon

    What Scares You?                          by Mallory Saunders

    My Darkness 
    The heavy emotions, memories and experiences that have been repressed, stagnant and festering within.
    The beaten down paths of the dark forest of my mind.
    The reoccurring negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that my racing anxiety and crippling depression drag me through. 

    My truth
    My authenticity
    Opening my heart and being vulnerable
    Taking risks
    Trying something new
    Doing things differently
    Laying down my armor and letting myself be seen 

    My voice, because it is loud and powerful, capable of creation and destruction and doesn’t resonate with everyone
    Seeing myself clearly
    True perspective, un-skewed and undistorted
    The good, the bad and the ugly 

    Judgment from others… but mostly from myself
    Accepting honoring and sharing my life and experiences with others
    Communicating my needs because it makes me feel weak and undeserving
    Making mistakes while expecting perfection
    True intimate connection because of…
    Having my heart broken
    Rejection, neglect, isolation, loss, emptiness
    Pain and Suffering 

    My light 
    Because deep within me I know the truth of my divinity
    I know who I am and what I am capable of
    I know the highest expression of my energetic vibration
    I know the ripple effect of my every choice and decision
    I know the waves of change I can generate through the direction of my intention.
    I know the infinite creative power that lies inside and the thought of unleashing that for the world to see.
    That’s what scares me. 

    Mallory lights up the darkness with more than her LED whip!

  • Jamie Fitzgerald: A Yoga Journey

    Yoga Teacher Training came to me purely unexpectedly and by total accident.  It was about 6 months prior to my 50th birthday when I became curious about yoga.  I had always wanted to try it, so I talked my neighbor into going to a class with me.  It was not what I had expected at all and my curiosity kept growing.  I continued to go to class about 20 miles away from our home when I overheard the substitute teacher say she was opening a new studio of her own very close to my home.  I was thrilled!  So, for the next 3 months I took as many classes as I could – the curiosity became more of an obsession so to speak.  I just couldn’t get enough.  I always thought yoga was for “flexible people” and all these other things, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Just as I was really starting to get the hang of yoga and some of the basic moves and terminology, our teacher informed us that she was moving!  I was devastated!  What was I going to do and where was I going to go?  She had just completed the teacher training in 2016-2017 at Open Way Yoga – she asked me if I had ever gone to a class there…. I told her that I had not.  She encouraged me to attend a class and suggested that I get into the Teacher Training!  I thought she was crazy!  How was I supposed to do that when I was so new to yoga to start with!  I began checking out this place “Open Way Yoga” and found out that they were just getting ready to start another Teacher Training and that there a few spaces left.  I literally had no time to even think about it – so I sent an email saying I was interested and the next thing I knew – I was signed up ready to go!  What was I thinking!!!!  I can’t do this – what if I’m the oldest person in the class?  I thought “Sun Salutation” was a Beach Boys lyric!  I convinced myself that I made a huge mistake but there was no turning back.  My husband and kids encouraged me to go on with the training and that’s exactly what I did!  This spring I completed the Teacher Training and have not one single regret!  I had no idea of the philosophy, physiology and spiritual teachings that go hand in hand with Yoga – all which have been a huge part of my life and passion!  To sum up my yoga experience thus far: It has been by far a life changing move for me – yoga feels like “home”.

    -Jamie Fitzgerald

  • Kara Myers: A Yoga Journey

    Kara just joined our teaching staff when we opened the Sandusky Studio. Kara is very strong and gravitates towards challenging strength poses.  She excells at taking the challenges and breaking them down into manageable bits for students.  You will also end up laughing for sure with Kara, her irreverant humor is irrepressible!  She teaches Body Sculpt Yoga on Thrusdays from 4:30 - 5:45 PM. -Shannon

    I started doing yoga after my daughter was born. At first my practice revolved around the physical aspect of yoga: the bending, the strengthening, and the bits of relaxation that came after. It didn't take long for my practice to begin shifting into something that at that time I didn't have the words for or understand. My insides were changing. I'd spent most of my life dealing with anxiety, dealing with an autoimmune disease, dealing with trauma, dealing with addiction. All I did was just "deal" with life. Yoga became my safe haven. For however long I moved on my mat, outside pressure didn't exist. I could breathe, and in those moments of breath, I was coping and accepting. I wasn't just "dealing" with my circumstances anymore. I picked challenging poses and spent time figuring out how to do them. I broke a pose down from top to bottom and figured out what I needed my body to do in order to accomplish that particular poses. Arm balances, in particular, were incredibly attractive to me. I felt so alive balancing, or attemtping ro balance, in those poses. My mind would shut off, and I would just let my body do the pose. The focus, the intensity...such a quiet peaceful place I could go to. Every step closer to my goal became a step towards healing. I can look back now and see that those poses and how much of myself I put into them really were about my challenges in life. I was conquering my past. The funny thing is I had no idea what I was doing, yogically and spiritually. Some days I'd spend my entire practice with tears just flowing. I think that after time those moments drove me to search for a much deeper understanding of what was happening inside me. In search for knowledge, I headed out into the world and started taking classes, which only fueled my desire to learn. The idea of a teacher training program with a curriculum, teachers, students, and a space to immerse myself in became more of a need. I found Open Way.

    I took classes and fell in love with the community and the studio. I just knew that this is where I needed to be in my journey. I enrolled in Open Way's RYT-200 teacher training program. As a class, we delved right into all of it: pranayama, meditation, poses, styles, anatomy, chakras, concepts, sutras, history, business, and so much more. We read books, had discussions, practiced a few poses, asked questions. We spent time not only exploring our bodies through yoga, but (as cheesy as it sounds) our minds and our souls. We discussed openly and without judgement how to navigate our practice and our lives through yogic eyes. I got so much of what I wanted and needed plus so much more of what I didn't expect.

    I found a safe space to learn to accept my flaws in every aspect of my life and how to use yoga to improve my overall quality of life. I found a home away from home full of love and acceptance. My teachers Brian and Shannon were open, honest, and knowledgeable. They have an amazing ability to present yoga through their own unique journies and ideas, which sometimes differ. Brian and Shannon have created a space that allows the students to explore different ideas open endedly with everyone being able to add their own dimension to the curriculum. I've met fifteen other beautiful students who provided so much support and genuine happiness for one another as we truly begin down our new paths as yogis. Open Way really proved to be a quality place to learn for all of us.

    The best part: I found myself. I found out things about me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I found my body. I found my soul. Nothing is perfect about me, yet in every way I am, and that is such a beautiful feeling.

    Everyday is a new and beautiful challenge as I continue to learn more about myself through my practice: forever learning, forever exploring, forever growing as a yogi.