OWY Blog

  • Guest Blog Post: Keelie on Yoga and Body Image

    Yoga and Body Image
    by Keelie Webb

    Body image is how you see yourself and how you feel about it. Take a moment before reading any further and make a list of adjectives to describe your body. Go on, don’t be scared… 

    Now pick your favorite asana and take a picture of yourself… 

    Did you do it?  Analyze your list and photo with a gentle heart.  For far too long, we have been bombarded with mass media messages and images that tell us to look a certain way.  The yoga movement has not been able to escape these patterns and it has become very apparent to me that many people who are interested in the benefits of yoga are too scared to show up—this is mostly because they have preconceived notions of what they should look like or what knowledge they should have before attending their first class.   

    Here’s a glimpse into my journey: I began taking pictures of myself in a variety of asanas and posting them on social media last year. At moments, I felt fear. I felt egocentric. I felt anxiety. This has strengthened my practice and my ability to feel comfortable in my own skin. Analyzing my image and my feelings about the way I look has taught me to appreciate (rather than scrutinize) where I am in my daily practice. From there, it has taught me to appreciate the beauty in others without that nagging, jealous, yearning urge to look like them. It has given me a very brave talking point from which I can begin to encourage others to celebrate their physical and mental body. Before I started practicing yoga I thought I knew and loved myself, but my exploration has truly offered a deeper layer of understanding. I am so proud to be me, to look like me, to feel like me. 

    My advice for you: SHOW UP! Get on your mat and practice like you mean it, from the inside out. Let go of body image concerns that are swirling about in your head. Notice the next time that you think or say critical words to yourself. Label it as negative self talk, and then let it go. Notice the next time you feel jealous that someone next to you can achieve a certain pose that you have difficulty with. Label it as jealousy, and then let it go. Learn about whatever it is that is holding you back from truly appreciating and honoring your body, and then let it go. An uplifting yoga practice that strengthens you physically and mentally is yours for the taking.

    When we asked yoga teacher Keelie Webb if she'd like to write a guest blog post she enthusiastically said yes and suggested Yoga and Body Image.  Keelie has a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education, a Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education.  Her thesis focused on Identity Development Among Hispanic American Adolescents.  

    Keelie teaches the Thursday at 6:00 AM Rise and Shine Yoga Challenge.  In her own words:  "My inspiration for the Rise & Shine class is to create a community of supportive practitioners who are focused on themselves in a positive way.  Rise & Shine does not simply stand for getting up early and practicing physical asanas, it is a cultivation of awareness towards the physical self and the journey of its’ dynamic relationship with the mind."   

    So check out the Rise and Shine Challenge class this Thursday at 6:00 AM and start your own journey.  See you there!  -Shannon

  • Weather Policy

    We are open and having class today.  Throughout the winter months, if we cancel class we will post on the blog and Facebook at least an hour prior to class.  If there is no post, assume there is class as usual.  Come on out and warm up :-)

  • Up and Coming: Special Winter Events

    We've planned some great winter worshops and special events!  You'll be hearing more about all of these in the new year, this is just to give you an idea what's coming up so you can set aside dates.

    Sampler Class

    An introduction to several of our standard class options.  In this workshop we will devote 25 minutes each to t’ai chi, yoga and meditation.  The same class will be held at two different times to accomodate scheduling needs.

    Wednesday January 14, Noon - 1:15
    Saturday January 17, 11 - 12:15

    Beginner's Yoga Series

    Another round of beginner's yoga.  This class will teach you everything you need to know to feel comfortable in any of our regularly scheduled classes.

    5 weeks, Monday evenings 7:30 - 8:45:  1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9

    Beginner's T'ai Chi Series 

    An rare opportunity to start leaning T'ai Chi starting at the very beginning with other beginners.  Absolutely no previous experience required.

    4 weeks, Tuesday mornings 9:00 - 10:00:  1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17

    Rise and Shine Challenge

    A community oriented early morning class that will begin with long holds that ease into a more active practice.  Start your day off right!   Advanced registration required.

    6 weeks, Thursday  mornings 6:00 - 7:00:  1/8, 1/15, 1/22, 1/29, 2/5, 2/12

    Yin Yoga Workshop

    Yin is a great way to calm your mind and create deep physical relaxation.  Perfect for any level - yin will deepen your practice no matter if it is your 1st or 1000th time on the mat.

    Saturday February 28 10:30 - noon

  • Christmas and New Year's Holiday Hours

    We have special holiday hours from Tuesday December 23rd - Friday January 2nd.  Keep an eye our for our New Winter Schedule which we'll be posting soon.  The new schedule will begin Saturday January 3rd.

    Tuesday 12-23:  6:00 PM Yoga Basics with Brian

    Wednesday 12-24:  Closed, no classes

    Thursday 12-25:  Closed, no classes

    Friday 12-26:  Noon Yoga Flow with Shannon

    Saturday 12-27:  9:00 AM Yoga Flow with Shannon

    Sunday 12-28:  9:00 AM Yoga Flow with Brian

    Monday 12-29:  6:00 PM  Gentle Yoga with Keelie

    Tuesday 12-30:  6:00 Yoga Basics with Mary 

    Wednesday 12-31:  9:00 Moring Yoga with Jamie 

    Thursday 1-1:  Closed, no classes

    Friday 1-2:  Noon Yoga Flow with Shannon 

  • Savasana: OWY Focus Pose of the Month

    (or Final Relaxation)
    “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” 
     John Lubbock, from The Use Of Life

    Savasana, also called corpse pose or final relaxation, is probably the most universal pose in yoga.  Almost every tradition recommends spending at least few minutes in savasana following an asana practice.  Because it is so common and is thought to be easy it is often taken for granted and given little attention.  Since we are entering what for many is the most stressful season of the year, savasana and it’s focus on deep relaxation seems like the perfect focus pose this month.  
    Savasana is a useful pose for for developing mind-body awareness.  “When the body is completely relaxed, awareness of the mind develops.” (Pradipika p.99)  One of the things that makes savasana different from other asanas is that you take away as much physical sensation as possible. This gives the body and mind time to process the many releases that take place during yoga practice and encourages awareness of the movements of mind.
    Savasna appears to be a simple pose, but it’s apparent simplicity is deceptive.  It can be very difficult to completely relax the physical body and even more difficult to still the mind.  If you've been wanting to practice yoga at home, give a 5 minute savasana a try.  Do it right... no music, no moving.  Be still and pay attention.  5 minutes of this is better than a nap!
    Shannon says:  
    Last month I had to have emergency abdominal surgery.  It was frightening and painful, needles to say it created a lot of stress.  On the day I was released from the hospital my doctor told me, “No yoga for 4 weeks.”

    Yikes.  I felt like the main tool I use for healing had been taken from me right at the moment I needed it most.

    But as soon as I got home I realized that the doctor (like most people) had a limited understanding of yoga.  I needed to follow the spirit of his instructions (not the letter) and the spirit was that I should rest and avoid taxing my body in any way.  So, I thought of the least taxing pose I could imagine... savasana.  I got off the couch and lay down on the floor.  At first I had to work into it, holding my knees up and gradually straightening them.  Once I got my legs to the floor I would lay there and breathe as deeply and calmly as I could.  Laying there breathing, the internal shakiness I was experiencing would subside, I felt soothed and calmed.  I just lay there breathing and trusted my body to heal.  It did and I began to understand why savasana is such a potent pose.
    Savasana Benefits:
    • According to the Pradipika, “...savasana is beneficial no matter what the condition is, even in perfect health, because it brings up the latent impressions buried within the subconscious mind, and the mind which operates during waking consciousness relaxes and subsides.”
    Savasana Pose Warnings:
    In general savasana is a very safe pose, there are no counter-indications that we know of, but here are two modifications for specific conditions.
    • If you have lower back pain, bring the knees up so that the soles of the feet are flat on the floor and prop the knees.  Placing a rolled up blanket under the knees is a really nice and relaxing way to do this.
    • During pregnancy raise the chest and head slightly - with a pillow or other prop.
    Tips for Savasana:
    Brian also explored savasana during a period of time when he was dealing with health issues.  In typical Brian fashion, he took it to the extreme, attempting to practice this pose 8 hours a day.  In order to stay alert for long periods of time he would drink a double espresso before he lay down.  To this day he advocates a shot of espresso for an alert savasana experience.