OWY Blog

  • Featured Pose: Krishnamacharya's Bow

    Brian chose this month's theme pose.  This bow is a lovely physical reflection of the theme "What are you Offering?"  It is an image that Brian has loved and been inspred by over the years.  

    Krishnamacharya's Bow:  We share this photograph each year with OWY's teacher trainees.

    This photograph and text was taken from the book Health, Healing, and Beyond by T.K.V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya's son, which is a book we highly recommend for a good general read on a variety of yoga topics.  In this book I especially like some of the history.  H, H, and B describes the life of a brilliant man who looked around, saw the changing times, and changed accordingly.  Yoga changed with him. Desikachar also discusses the major historical texts like Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in clear, understandable language as taught to him by his father.  More about Krishnamacharya here.

     Still shot of Brian demonstrating Krishnamacharya's Bow

    We love practicing this bow as a part of our sun salutations!  It it a nice deep stretch for the shoulders and pulls the shoulder blades down the back in a very satisfying way.  Brian likes to flex his wrists, which engages the back, or it can be done with the more cupped alignment of Krishnamacharya for a sweet and deeply opening, weighted feeling.

    ...And an abastract painting of the bow by Brian. (painted years ago)

    The image of this yoga pose has always meant a lot to Brian.  As his partner, I can say that it reflects some of the quality that I see in him - He is humble and full-hearted when he makes an offering.

     -Shannon

    Also check out this related blog post: Brian on Krishnamacharya

  • Introducing The Father of Modern Yoga: Brian on Krishnamacharya

    When Brian was relatively new to yoga one of his teachers said, "If you really want to learn about yoga, find out who your teacher's teachers are."  Brian, never one to take an invitation like this lightly, started looking into it.  When he traced his teachers back, almost every branch on the tree led back to  Krishnamacharya - the same is true (with notable exceptions) of many American yoga teachers today.  Brian chose Krishnamacharya's Bow as the pose to accompany our monthly theme "What are you Offering?"  It is a lovely pysical expression of the heart gesture of giving.  

    Here is a little writing Brian did to introduce Krishnamacharya to those of you who may not have heard of him. - Shannon

    This photograph is the cover of the book Health, Healing, and Beyond by T.K.V. Desikachar, Krishnamacharya's son, which is a biography of Krishnamacharya and a book we highly recommend as a good general read on a variety of yoga topics.

    T. Krishnamacharya, TKM (1888 – 1989) is widely regarded as one of the most influential yoga teachers of the 20th century and is often credited with the revival of hatha yoga.  

    He is often referred to as the father of modern yoga.  While it’s hard to say exactly what this means or how the heck this could be determined, the phrase does convey the degree of impact that the quiet little man man from southern India has had on the yoga that we do in our practices today.  Not only did he revive the practice of hatha yoga, he was also responsible for modernizing the practice and bringing this yoga to the west.  

    TKM is considered the architect of the vinyasa style of yoga, the way we practice today combining breath with movement in and out of the poses.  This style of practice came primarily through his students Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa.  But that was long ago, and now practicing asana with the breath is generally called Vinyasa Flow.  Practicing this way has spread like wildfire and is found in almost all the popular yoga styles of today.  Kelly Rose will be teaching Ashtanga Vinyasa in our Norwalk studio, Tues/Thurs. 6:30 PM.  

    Underlying all of Krishnamacharya's teachings was the belief that every student is absolutely unique and that each student should be taught according to his or her individual capacity at any given time. One place this belief manifested is in the form of Iyengar Yoga, a very strict alignment oriented yoga where props are used so that each individual can achieve a correctly aligned version of each pose, no matter their abilities or limitations.  You experience this influence every time you hear a teacher say things like, “turn your back foot forward and take a the bend out of your knee.”  Mary Folger teaches Iyengar Yoga Mondays 5:30 PM in Sandusky or Wednesdays at 7:00 AM in Huron.

    Krishnamacharya believed that yoga was India’s greatest gift to the world, given freely with no strings attached.  By developing and refining different approaches, Krishnamacharya made yoga accessible to millions around the world.

    At the age of 96, Krishnamacharya fractured his hip. Refusing surgery, he treated himself and designed a course of practice that he could do in bed. Krishnamacharya lived and taught in Chennai until he slipped into a coma and died in 1989, at one hundred years of age. His cognitive faculties remained sharp until his death. 

     by Brian Henderson

    Also check out this related blog post:  Featured Pose:  Krishnamacharya's Bow

  • Guest Post: Patricia Hecker on Offering

    A few words from OWY teacher Patricia Hecker in answer to our theme question of the month "What are you Offering?"  Patricia completed OWY's teacher training last spring and teaches Gentle Yoga, Thursdays, 6:00PM in Sandusky.

    Patricia Hecker on What Are You Offering?

    I’ll admit I had great difficulty with this topic. I would start to write only to delete it and push sitting down to write until later. I finally had to ask myself why is this difficult and what I discovered is writing about what I felt I had to offer felt boastful and self-absorbed. I considered asking others for advice on what I had to offer, only to realize that what I had given them may not always be what I’m giving out across the board. Then, I was gifted a mug completely out of the blue, and on this mug was a quote by Edwin Elliot, “By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before”.

    That is what I offer. I offer myself, as I am, regardless of the opinion of others. First and foremost, I extend a warm welcoming with a persistent smile. I offer happiness by spreading the things that bring me joy to others; I offer my humility - when I’ve made a mistake, or several, I am able to find the humor in less than ideal situations. I hope that this encourages others to also not be so harsh towards their own missteps and look upon themselves with a gentle kindness.  I offer growth in knowledge and introspect. There have been times in yoga when a pose did not feel right, I would try small adjustments, and ask questions. Then I share the struggle, the experience, and the discovery in my own classes emphasizing the important and enjoyment that can be find in slowing down and observing. In each class I offer student’s the embrace of their own individualities and experiences throughout the practice. We do not need to wrap ourselves up into pretty packages tied in perfect bows because it is the quirks and uniqueness of a bow’s loops and knots that truly make it wonderful.

    by Patrica Hecker 

  • 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. 

    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 4 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 4:  Fashion For the Environment

  • 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.

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

    Part 1 of 5:  Introduction to Ethical Fashion: What and Why
    Part 3 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 3:  Fashion for Humanity
    Part 4 of 5:  Ethical Fashion Part 4:  Fashion For the Environment

  • 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.

    by Elisabeth Sowecke

    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

  • 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