OWY Blog

  • Exercise: Compassion for the Body Letter

    Compassion for the Body is an idea some of us around the studio have explored this month as a part of our monthly theme Compassion.  For many of us the idea of applying compassion to ourselves, especially our bodies, is a completely foriegn idea.  We've never considered cultivating compassion for ourselves, instead we think of it as only something we do or don't offer to others.  

    To get started... if you're reading this and are like, "What, compassion for myself?  That's crazy!"  Go back and read Compassion for the Body.  

    If you'd like to join us in our exploration here is an exercise shared by Valerie Parker.  Take this idea deeper, it's life changing!   - Shannon Leigh

    Valerie in Fish Pose at the Huron studio.  Valerie teaches in Sandusky (Mondays 8:30 - 9:45 AM, Wednesdays 12 - 1:00 PM) and Norwalk (Tuesdays 12 - 1:00 PM)

    Exercise:  Letter to the Body

    Compassion, OWY's theme this month, reminds me of a very powerful exercise that I completed at a Kripalu workshop.

    Compassion is empathy, understanding, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth,  love, gentleness, mercy, kindness.  What we practice in ourselves shines through to others. Yet, for many of us our feelings about ourselves and our bodies are less than compassionate.    

    Body image is an area where so many of us experience critical self-judgement, and lack of compassion.  This exercise can help to illuminate the truth about your body.  

    Consider the following:

    Who has been part of your life from the day you were born until present?
    Who has never let you down no matter what, even when you didn’t make the best choices?
    Who listens attentively to your every word and thought?
    Who reveals every life sensation and emotion?
    Who is with you 24/7, 365 days a year throughout your life journey, through peak moments of joy and your deepest struggles?

    Answer:  Your dear friend, your body.

    Exercise:  Write a letter to your body as if you were writing to a dear friend: 

    Example:  (Both examples were written by Valerie)

    My dear body,
    This is what I have to tell you:

    I have to tell you thank-you for tolerating and being resilient to my ever changing judgemental mind.  I thank you for providing me with a healthy vehicle to do my daily work and giving me 4 beautiful children.  I want to thank you for allowing me to see, hear, feel, touch nature and others around me.  Body, I want to say I am sorry for loathing you and torturing you at times.  Body, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking care of me.  

    Sincerely, Valerie

    Exercise:  Give your body a chance to respond.  You'll be amazed when you give voice to this part of yourself.  The body is very forgiving. 

    Dearest Valerie,
    Here is my response to you:

    I have tirelessly given you my all, totally understanding your need to question and push me.  I have joyfully nourished you, pumped your blood and protected you from the environment.  I have without thought or concern served your needs through joy and sadness.  I will continue to do my very best every moment of every day.  

    Love, Your Body

    Thanks Valerie for this vulnerable share!  Stay tuned for more on Vulnerability - up and coming as March's theme.

  • Love:  From us to you!

    Love: From us to you!

    At OWY many of us are artists and lovers of art.  The heart above is a pour-painting made by Erin Percy and gifted to Sherrena for her birthday.  We are sharing it with you along with this medatative love poem to bless your Valentine's day! 

    Whether you are coupled or single love is for you!  

    Contrary to popular opinion love does not move from the outside in, from others into us.  Love is an experience that radiates from the inside out.  This is such a relief, it means love is here - all the love you could ever want and need, already yours...  Be a fearless explorer of the terrain of your own heart, sink into yourself and find love!

    by Czeslaw Milosz

    Love means to learn to look at yourself
    The way one looks at distant things
    For you are only one thing among many.
    And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
    Without knowing it, from various ills.
    A bird and a tree say to him: Friend. 

    Then he wants to use himself and things
    So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
    It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
    Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

    (From from New and Collected Poems: 1931-2001.)

  • Converging Paths Meditation Group at OWY

    Have you met Larry and Ann Smith?  This Huron couple is such an inspiration to me.  I love how they look around and see what they would like more of in the world and then work to create it.  Ann has her PhD in nursing and taught nursing at the Medical College in Toledo for 18 years; she had her own practie as a psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist, providing counseling & reiki; she is well known and loved by many in our commnity.  Larry taught English and Creative Writing at Firelands for 35 years before he retired, he is a writer, founded and directed Bottom Dog Press a local publishing company now in its 34th year, and hosts monthly writing workshops and poetry readings at Mr. Smiths (2nd Saturdays in Sandusky).  Meditation is a big part of Ann and Larry's lives and they have attended retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh and Tara Brach.  They have been hosting Converging Paths Meditation at different locations for 11 years.  We are happy they have found a home with us at Open Way - they meet Tuesday evenings at the Huron Studio!          -Shannon 

    Welcome to Converging Paths Meditation!

    Imagine sitting quietly feeling safe and comfortable. Your breath is calm and slow. All of your muscles slowly relax. You feel the air on your skin and the cushion or chair beneath you; you are aware of any sensations in your body. Thoughts about the future or worries about the past float automatically into your mind and you notice but you don’t become attached to each one or start a worrying cycle. Instead, over and over you bring your attention back to the sensations of breathing. 

    In this state of relaxed awareness, breathing becomes slower and deeper sending oxygen into the blood. Your blood vessels dilate and oxygenated blood flows freely into each cell, tissue and organ of your body. When breathing slows down, it automatically slows the heartbeat and decreases blood pressure. The brain calms down to slower brain waves and the mind is relaxed and alert. Muscles can loosen and relax thus decreasing tightness and pain. All of these physical changes have been proven through much research.

    This slowing down gives the body and mind a pause, a chance to rest and renew. Learning to pause can affect how we respond to and deal with difficult situations. We learn to take a pause and give ourselves space to think before we say or do something that is regretful. We learn to live in the moment noticing what is around us and who we are within the moment rather than ruminating over the past which is over or obsessing over the future. The best way to deal with the future is to live in the now. 

    There are many physical and emotional problems that can be positively affected by meditating regularly. Some of these include lowered blood pressure, decreased anxiety, improved sleep, decreased jaw clenching, decreased neck and head pain, higher brain function, Improved immune function, increased attention and focus, increased clarity in thinking and perception, experience of being calm and internally still.

    If this experience appeals to you, please join us for quiet group meditation every Tuesday evening at 7:30 – 8:45 at Open Way Yoga in Huron. We are an eclectic group of people who enjoy sitting together. Each session begins with guided meditation for a few minutes helping us to settle in and find our quiet to meditate, followed by slow walking meditation, calming yoga stretches typically led by Sharon, and we end with silent meditation pulling the mind and body together.  –Ann Smith

    This is a poem by co-founder Larry Smith, it presents some of the intention and broad acceptance of the group as we converge each session.

    Converging Paths  

    Is our name for it
    a center where we come
    to stretch and sit
    breathe silence together.

    We’ve chosen the labyrinth
    as symbol, the one from Chartres
    that slowly winds into itself
    in darkness and light.

    And so we come from diverse ways
    into one, a union of acceptance,
    unforced but found,
    as though we’ve all arrived
    at the same anonymous station.

    Not destination, but paths
    we find within ourselves.

    May you be well…

  • Featured Pose: Eagle and Variations

    Our February Focus is Eagle Pose (Garudasana) as we explore the theme Compassion.  I like to think of Eagle Pose as a self-hug... and it is so much more!  Strengthening, stabilizing, focus building, shoulder & back-of-heart opening, and, as it opens the back of the torso, it can be helpful for those with lower back pain and sciatica.  

    Eagle Pose and a few of it's myriad of variations are explored in these photos of Keelie at the Huron studio.  

    1.  Eagle Pose: Full Variation.  Arms bound so that palms touch.  Legs wrapped so that the top of the bound foot tucks behind the standing leg.  Stasbilize this pose by grounding through the standing foot, squeezing the legs together, tucking the tail bone slightly and compacting through the front of the pelvis. (Solidity in the core is essential for standing balance poses.)The next two images explore leg modifications.

    2.  Eagle Pose: Kickstand Variation. Arms bound, toes of the wrapping leg touch the floor for stability.  This accessible variation offers extra stability through the legs which allows the practitioner to stabilize the core and focus on the arms without the added challenge of balance.3.  Eagle Pose: Lifed Leg Variation.  Wrapping leg lifts to challenge balance, but does not tuck behind standing leg.

    Men especially can have particular difficult with Eagle Pose in the upper body.  The three following variations are arm modifications.  

    4.  Eagle Pose: Hooked Finger Variation.  If you cannot bring your palms flat together, hook the thumb and fingers.

    5.  Eagle Pose: Self-Hug Arm Variation.  Arms cross and wrap around the back, grasp and gently pull the shoulder blades apart.5.  Eagle Pose: Stacked Arms Modification.  Lift the elbows to deepen into the upper back.The following two images are fun variations for deeper exploration.

    6.  Eagle Pose : Seated Modification.  Cow-faced legs with eagle arms.  Lift the elbows and pull the shoulder blades onto the back for a nice stretch across the tops of the shoulders, then release the elbows down and bow forward, letting the weight of the arms pull the shoulder blades apart behind the back.

    7.  Eagle Pose: Inverted.  Eagle legs can be done in shoulder stand or headstand to add variety and a host of benefits to your inversions.  Squeeze the legs in toward the mid-line.

    Thanks Keelie for the lovely photo shoot!

  • Compassion for the Body

    by Shannon Leigh

    Recently Valerie Parker walked into the studio and handed me a book.  This was good news for me because most of the great yoga books I’ve read in the past few years have either been gifts or suggestions from Valerie.  She thought I’d like the book as a whole, but really wanted me to read one short chapter on Self-Judgement.  The chapter and the book, Living Your Yoga by Judith Lassater, were revelatory.  Judith writes, “Often my inner dialog was negative and pejorative, causing me to inflict my yoga practice on myself.”  I recognized myself instantly in this line…

    The past few weeks I’ve been contemplating Compassion as the agreed upon theme for month of February… What does it mean to me?  How does it relate to yoga?  When I read Judith’s words it became clear to me:  I do not have a strong experience of compassion for self. 

    When I practice yoga, as is true for most of us, I am experiencing myself at the edge of my limitations and my self-talk reflects my feelings about my body in the face of those limitations.  The voice in my head sounds something like this, “You’ve gone deeper before.  Do your best version in case someone is watching… You should have a better pose by now… If only you weren’t so lazy you’d be better… If only you had more training you’d be better… If only you had practiced before class you’d be able to demo this better…”  On it goes.

    And I push - the dominating mind, the one I talk about so often in my yoga classes, takes over and pushes my body to its edges for the gratification of the mind/ego at the expense of the body’s lived experience of well-being.

    Judith’s words drew my attention to this and I started to hold my body differently in my thinking.  Instead of viewing my body as being an obstacle to my perfect pose, I started to hold it as my own sweet baby.  I would never berate my baby for having the limitations of babyhood, I wouldn’t yell at baby, “Get up and walk,” or “Feed yourself.”  Babies just can’t do those things yet, which does not mean the baby won’t be able to do those things ever.  Most babies eventually can and do, but until they do we hold them as they are and love them as they are.  I can love and care for my body the same way.  I can hold compassion for the body exactly as it is, while still caring about its growth and development.   

    One thing that often blocks my compassion is the erroneous belief that all growth will stop without the pushing that comes from this dominating voice.  This is wrong!  Growth and progress continues the same as before, but instead of wrenching my leg into Compass pose, pushing and pulling at myself with all kinds of condemnation and violent self-talk, I can say things like, “Sweet body, I feel you.”  I can hold my body in my mind the same as I held my children as babies.  If I’m feeling the body and letting the messages of the body come through (the body communicates with us through sensation) it guides me, I have a better sense of where to push and where to soften, how to move and what to deepen.  The body itself invites the deepening.

    In all my years of working to uncover the reality of mind and body, I’d failed to notice this lack of compassion for my own body, but cupid’s arrow finally hit its mark.  Holding myself in this way is one of the greatest gifts I can give this oft abused, maligned and generally disregarded body that does so much for me.  There is as much potential depth in compassionate body-love as there is in any deep love I’ve experienced… my love for Brian…  for my kids.   In some sense it is the truest and deepest love imaginable, because for as long as I’m alive, Sweet Body, we’re in this together.  

    (poem by Shannon)

    Just breathing is pleasure - soften inside...
    Lovely Body, impermanent, not mine.
    Lovely Body-of-this-exact-size.
    Being its thing.  Dynamic… Alive.

  • Guest Post: Sherrena Bilgen on Yoga and Transformation

    Sherrena describes the many ways yoga has helped her transform into the person she wants to be and is still in the process of becoming in this post.  Writing this was a big stretch for Sherrena, not unlike the stretch she describes making by signing up for yoga teacher training - the results were worth it in both cases.  As is true for many of us, yoga has been a powerful force for healing in Sherrena's life and it is inspring to me that she's taking the leap and sharing her story.  It's been a pleasure to be a part of her process and she's an incredible addition to our staff.   -Shannon

    When I first started my teacher training in 2015, I was overwhelmed.  I didn't know what I had gotten myself into. I felt lost, insecure, not good enough, and embarrassed. I had no idea what I was doing.  I had no plans to teach yoga, I was just learning for myself and couldn’t help but wonder as I ran through another Sun Salutation:  Why did I sign up for this?  Why are they breathing like this?  What in the world is OM?  Why are we laying here on our backs!  I have things I could be getting done! ; ) 

    I had never had practiced yoga before this and dove right into the physical part.  Something happened: I started getting emotional during the rest time on our backs, and every time we did those” hip things” (in Shannon’s Yin classes) I would cry again.  It was a while before I realized I was letting go of deep hurt I had had inside me for years.  I was changing without even knowing it.  I was transforming myself by learning to let go.

    I signed up for teacher training because I had fallen into a deep depression.  Over a year and a half in 2012-2014 I lost my father, grandma, grandpa and aunt.  It brought to the surface several other profound losses - when I was 6 my brother, who was also my best friend (at 10 1/2 months apart), died suddenly; when I was twelve I lost a close aunt; and my other grandma had died the day after my daughter was born.  All of the losses finally hit - I didn’t know I had it in me to feel as bad as I did during that time.  I had always had a camera in my hands and I didn’t take a picture for 2 years. I didn’t care about anything.  I stayed in my bed, I had to make myself go to work.  No one really knew how bad I was.  I kept looking for self-help guides, then one day I heard about yoga.  A friend of mine shared with me that Open Way had a teacher training program, and that I should sign up.  I’d never done yoga before, but something just sounded right.  I signed up.  I was getting out of the little box I’d living in.  I was proud of myself, slowly transforming by reaching out of my comfort zone.

    The meditation and breathing techniques that Brian taught made me feel calmer and more positive in my mind.  I started using meditation more at home and it was praying time for me as well.  I would be sitting, meditating and I’d hear my kids arguing.  They would stop when they saw me, and whisper, “Let's be quiet Mom is healing.” They noticed a change before I did.  I was transforming without even realizing it.     

    Growing up I was a super quiet, shy-girl. People never knew that I was abused, bullied, and told I was never good enough.  I had to take a speech class due to stuttering and a lisp I had.  There was no way I would ever be able to teach yoga.  During teacher training when Brian wanted me to teach a Sun Salutation in front of the other trainees I was frozen and couldn’t do it!   He kept at me though.  Eight months into my training I taught a small flow during Shannon’s class.  (A minute that felt like and hour!)  I was determined to get my certification and in order to get my certification, I had to teach.  I practiced that 1 minute flow for hours at home, and still messed it up!  I was petrified with all those eyes on me, but I survived.  Once I’d finally completed my certification I knew if I didn’t keep teaching, I was going to go right back into the insecurity.  I started teaching on my own for family and friends.  A few months later I received a message from Brian and Shannon asking me if I would be interested in teaching at Open Way.  I still have that message saved on my phone!  I was so shocked, scared and excited…  They want me to teach???  I could do it!  I could transform into:  I Am Confident.

    Always a people pleaser, I did things that I didn’t want to do because I didn’t want to hurt anyone and I wanted friends so badly.  Yoga has taught me that I have a voice, I can speak up for myself, I can say no.  I don’t do things that don’t serve me in positive ways and I feel so good about that. Transforming into:  I am strong.

    I’m not good enough, has always been a way of thinking that I used as a way out of things - even healing myself.  Or I would put my emotions away, because I was ‘fine.“  I knew I had to heal myself to help others.  I am still working on these transformations… Transformation is a process and I am a work in progress. 

    I have always been a worrier:  Do they like me?  Did I do it correctly?  I worry about the past, the future and everything in between.  Yoga has taught me to live more in the moment. To breathe in the beauty of the now, to not question too much, to just be. I am transforming into:  I am Peaceful. 

    My community has helped me in so many ways.  I have grown in confidence from my students sharing with me how much stronger and relaxed they feel after my class. Or they will share that a quote I read during Savasana stayed with them through the week.  To see them smile after class heals me.  I would like to thank each and every teacher, student, family and friend for supporting me in ways they don’t even realize.  I needed and still need your support to transform into the best version of me.   Transformation… I Am Growing on this journey of discovery!

    This poem captures a feeling that comes to me through yoga. 

    I Am Here For You

    Always - I am her for you
    Escape your busy life
    Don’t talk.. just join me
    Savor my understanding, and my love

    Arouse your senses
    Taste the fruit of my alluring gift
    Or indulge completely
    In the vast orchard, of life’s sacred passion

    Smell the blossoms of desire
    Be with me - feel what is in your heart
    You are not that busy…
    You are never - too busy for me

    Come with me, pick the whole fruit
    And sit under the tree of life
    Surrender completely
    As love, is well spent with me

    Tomorrow is too late
    I will be gone!

    Always I am here for you…
    Yet sadly, always I must leave
    Eternity- is the time we spend together

    Forever and always…I am here for you
    This moment loves you!

    by Doug Swenson


    Brian and Shannon, I want to thank you both so much for your help in guiding me.  I realize I still have a lot of healing and learning to go.  I still struggle with my negative mind telling me I’m not good enough everyday, but I feel so blessed to be here now.   Thank you for that push!

  • Guest Post: Andrea Petersen on Yoga as a Vehicle for Internal Transformation

    Andrea Petersen completed OWY's teacher training last spring and is teaching in our Norwalk Studio - Monday Yoga Flow at 9:00 AM and Tuesday All Level Yoga at 5:00 PM.  In this piece Andrea shares some the joys and challenges she experienced on the deep internal dive that yoga can inspire.  Join us this month as we continue to explore the theme of transformation by focusing on Tree Pose and asking ourselves the question: What are you transforming?  
    Andrea's answer: Herself. -Shannon

    Andrea on stage at OWY Norwalk in a bound lunge.

    I was lucky to have been introduced to meditation and yoga as a child. I've had a long, but sporadic yoga practice for over 35 years. Sometimes going years between consistent practice and other times being very focused and dedicated. When our daughter was small, a twice daily practice got me through exhaustion of raising a family and full time work. Massage school was next and became my vocation. I often think that I focused on the healing of others as a salve to my own suffering. Completing yoga teacher training was on my list long before massage therapy school was in my life, but the time to leave my small family for a month long intensive just wasn't feasible. Nearly 20 years ago two suicides very close together in our family left us completely shattered. As a way to cope and by necessity, I became the weight bearing bedrock for my loved ones as they tried, not always successfully, to find the way through. I began to suffer and repress my own need for help; I was just trying to hold up a falling house of cards that I kept together using pieces of myself as the glue. Hardening my heart to save it from any more pain had the unintended affect of dulling all emotions and leaving me feeling isolated and stunted. This is not to say that there wasn't love or fun or happiness during these times, but that the joy and positive feelings and experiences were blunted. Yoga and sitting in meditation would call to me and still, out of fear for what I may find inside my head and heart, I only gave myself an intermittent practice. Eventually I gave myself a gift of a weekly practice and WOW, there was some ugly stuff in the Pandora's box of my brain! Even so, the benefits were so powerful that I kept doing it. Touching those parts in my heart were incredibly painful, so I foucused on the physical parts and got a little space in my head. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I threw myself back into a deep practice in hopeful preparation for the physical demands of teacher training. I lay on my mat while the tears rolled during nearly every savasana and sometimes even in the middle of class. I was accessing parts of my heart that had been fortified and hidden away for so long that tears were the only outlet regardless of the emotions behind them. Little cautious dips into the scary well of repressed emotions had done much to prove that I wouldn't die or crumble the next time I looked inside. By the time my actual opportunity to begin my teacher training at Open Way arrived I had begun to feel safe enough in my own skin to sit and explore and (YES!) let go of so much emotional baggage that I had been sitting on like a dragon hoard. There was no way I could have peeled the curtains back all the way in one quick motion. What a joyous experience it is to discover true peace and overwhelming love inside by just being still and listening without all that brain chatter! The personal journey I've been on has been silent and profound and I have rediscovered myself. The physical aspects of Hatha Yoga get me on my mat but it's the inner work that keeps me coming back. Brian and Shannon and all the yogis at Open Way have truly created a community that allows for anyone to come and practice just as they are. I truly have no words for the immense gratitude I have for the people and space that make up Open Way Yoga and the gift I have been given. Thank you, to all of you that make up this community. Even if you don't know it, you've contributed to my rediscovery and rebirth by just being who you are, on your mats. As a teacher, If I can give back some of what I've received then I'll call that true success.

  • Featured Pose: Tree Pose and Variations

    This month as we focus on transformation at OWY we are featuring a pose that represents the profound transfomation of a seed growing into a tree - Tree Pose or Vrksasana.  These shots were taken in the Huron studio in front of the chalkboard drawn by Mallory showing a seed opening into a tree. This photo blog progresses from the easiest variation to the most difficult and ends with some fun challenges to try once you can hold a half-lotus tree pose.

    1. Beginners Variation - Kickstand Tree Pose.  Toes on the floor add stabilility as balance develops.

    2.  Move the foot to the inner calf as a second step - avoid the knee.

    3.  Move the foot to the inner thigh.  Once this alignment is well away from the knee press the foot into the thigh and press the thigh back into the foot to create stability.

    4.  Extend arms over head for an added challenge. 

    5.  1/2 Lotus Tree Pose Variation - Press the side of the ankle into the front top of the thigh.

    6.  Bound 1/2 Lotus Tree Variation- Wrap your arm behind back to clasp foot.

    7.  Forward Folding Bound 1/2 Lotus Tree Pose Variation - This is a very challenging balance move!

    8.  Tip Toe Lotus - a final balance challenge!

    Thanks to Sherrena for the lovely pictures of Shannon demo-ing the variations!

  • Ethical Fashion Part 5: Ethical Fashion's Open Way Forward


         Brian (in up-cycled clothing) and Shannon (in an OWY Synergy print) pictured in the Sandusky Studio.
         Thanks to Andy Oriel and The Sandusky Register for the photo.

    Yoga is widely embraced for its super powers. With each pose, we transcend physical, mental and spiritual barriers—exhale worry, inhale relief. We carry this power with us when we leave the studio—the power to transform problems into solutions. 

    Through our series on ethical fashion, Open Way Yoga has shed light on the painful truth about the clothes we wear. Billions of pounds of textiles in the trash millions of children working in the industry (and even more adults employed under dreadful conditions), thousands of chemicals that are toxic for the body and the planet —the basic facts about fashion are enough to overwhelm.  

    We would never knowingly employ children, pummel the earth or ingest poisonous toxins, but the dark side of the fashion industry is hidden from us, so we dress in clothing that contributes to harm without realizing it is within our power to create positive change. 

    On the bright side, once we become aware that our choices have a profound impact, our fashion sense begins to change. Throughout the series, we have shared several tips for practicing ethical fashion:

    1. Ask yourself these important questions: Who made this? What is this made of? Where was this made and where will it go? 
    2. Choose fair trade brands that are transparent about their supply chain and clothes made of plant-based fibers, such as organic cotton, linen, bamboo and hemp, and avoid clothes that must be washed separately or with special features, like “wrinkle-free” or “dirt-repellant.” 
    3. Buy up-cycled, used and vintage clothing that is often stripped of irritants over time and wear and is best kept out of the billion-pound pile of textiles that are disposed of each year. 
    4. For further ideas and conversation, connect with local, reputable retailers that offer ethical fashion and gear. Open Way Yoga is now operating in Huron, Norwalk (January 6th!) and Sandusky and we offer up-cycled items, as well as eco-conscious lines like Synergy, Green Apple and Manduka

    “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 

    We may not have the power to save the world, but we do have the power to prioritize our values—Health, Humanity, Environment—and spend our money in that direction. When we invest in ethical fashion availability grows, the clothing becomes more affordable and the market rises to meet our expectations.

    We have the power to demand better. 

    by Elisabewth Sowecke

    Part 1 of 5:  Introduction to Ethical Fashion: What and Why
    Part 2 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 2:  Eco-Fashion for the Body
    Part 3 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 3:  Fashion for Humanity
    Part 4 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 4:  Fashion for the Environment

    Up-cycled OWY Print by Brian (Currently for sale in Sandusky Studio)

  • Ethical Fashion Part 4: Fashion for the Environment

    “In many yoga poses we imitate earth elements - mountain, tree and all the many animal poses, and we learn from embodying these elements. Yoga practice ultimately brings us into greater awareness of our place in connection with all of life. Over time this extends off the mat—we begin to recognize that every choice we make affects the world in a meaningful way. We begin to notice. One of the things we notice is that the clothes we are wearing are almost all harmful to the environment in surprisingly extreme ways.“  -Shannon Thomas, OWY Co-Owner 

    Shannon in bound half-lotus tree-pose variation.  Pictured in Synergy Clothing and Vivobarefoot boots.

    The clothing industry has one of the highest impacts on the planet. High pesticide, petroleum and water usage, pollution from chemical treatments used in dyeing and the disposal of over 20 billion pounds of textiles per year are some of the environmental hazards of mainstream fashion. 

    A transition to eco-conscious fashion begins by answering these questions:

    What is it made of? 
    We’re encouraged to wear cotton clothing because it is natural and comfortable—the fabric of our lives. However, a staggering amount of chemicals are used to produce and sell cotton clothes. More than 35% of the world’s insecticides and pesticides, along with a significant amount of the world’s water and petroleum are used to make non-organic cotton. 

    Worse yet, toxins used to make all non-organic textiles are washed into the earth’s fresh water supply and end up in our bodies, wildlife and plants—all over the planet. 

    How is it made? 
    Aside from the amazing range of colors that compliment and inspire, little thought is given to the dyeing process. Most dyes used in mainstream clothing are highly toxic and have a low-absorption rate, requiring increased amounts of water usage. 

    Where will it go? 
    We can invest in ethical fashion, in more than one way - we can purchase used and up-cycled clothing, or insist on shopping for quality, environmentally conscious clothing which almost always outlive our passion for wearing them.  Once quality clothing has lived its useful Fashion life, we are able to re-purpose it and feel confident passing along items we no longer need. Ethical fashion rarely ends up in the 20 billion pound pile of textiles that are disposed of each year.  

    “We believe that the practice and the planet are intertwined. To honor one, we honor both.” –Manduka 

    Through our practice, we connect with the world and start to recognize that every choice we make affects the world in a variety of ways. We begin to notice. We recycle and reuse, drive hybrid cars, install renewable energy utilities, eat less meat. Despite our best efforts to honor the earth and reduce our carbon footprint, our problem with consumption remains. 

    At Open Way Yoga, we want to make it easy for you to make this meaningful change!  We provide clothing options that are gentle to the environment; we offer up-cycled items, as well as eco-conscious lines like Synergy, Green Apple and Manduka

    Honoring the planet is part of our practice.  Come practice with us!

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

    Part 1 of 5:  Introduction to Ethical Fashion: What and Why
    Part 2 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 2:  Eco-Fashion for the Body
    Part 3 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 3:  Fashion for Humanity