OWY Blog

  • Class Notes #3

    1. Yin Yoga

    This Saturday from 10:30 to noon Shannon is teaching a special Yin Yoga workshop.  Like a regular class, but just this one time.  Those of you who have been coming to my classes have been getting a tiny taste of Yin Yoga.  The simplest description is that you hold poses in as relaxed a way as possible for a looooong time, like 3 to 5 minutes.  You get a deep stretch that's just not possible with the shorter times we normally hold poses.  I went to my first Yin class over 10 years ago and it permanently changed the way I practice.  If you like yoga and have been curious about meditation, Yin yoga is the perfect combo of the two.  I put a check in both columns when I practice Yin, meditation and asana.  I often break the rules when I practice Yin (shocking, I know) and altenate between the passive Yin style and the more active/engaged Yang style that we typically practice.  Yin has been a fundamental part of Shannon's yoga for a long time as well.  I practiced with her and some of her friends once.  They spent a good deal of the time socializing!  Yin can be nice like that.  Even though it can feel very "serious" when in a class, it lends itself to a very informal atmosphere, which Shannon is good at setting up.

    And don't be mislead.  Yin yoga is NOT Gentle Yoga or in any other way "easy".  It can be very challenging and thus, very rewarding.  Think pigeon for 5 minutes.  You start to get bored around minute two, then by minute three you can hardly endure the sensation!  It's fun.  Give it a try.  I'm sure Shannon will also set up a nice play list.

    2.  Alternate Nostril Breathing

    This exercise forms the foundation of a good yoga breathing practice.  I've been doing three rounds at the end of every class and will continue to do this for a while.  It's super good for us and if we want to get the full benefits from this ancient practice of yoga (and why wouldn't we?!) then incorporating the breathing exercises is important.  Here is a nice web-link describing alternate nostril breathing if you're interested in more information.

    3. Speaking of meditation, I'll be teaching a meditation class tomorrow night (Wednesday Feb 18th) at Elite Wellness Group at 6:30 PM.  The meditation I teach is a mix of practices, that I would claim are fun:  standing, sitting, moving, maybe chanting, maybe alternated nostril breathing....This class happens once a month on the 3rd Wednesday.


  • Yin Yoga Workshop

    Yin Yoga Workshop

    This is adapted from an earlier blog post on Yin Yoga by Shannon

    I'd been practicing yoga for over a decade the first time I sat down in a yin class.  An hour and 15 minutes later, I left class and said to my friend Claudia, "I've never felt so good in my life... That was the best yoga class, ever."  She agreed.  The next week I had the same reaction, and the week after that, and the week after that.  Very quickly Yin bacame my primary form of practice and still is.  I think it is the perfect practice to balance our very hectic and stress-riddled lives. So if you've been wondering what this Yin-business is all about this workshop is your chance to find out.  

    The main thing to know is that the practice is goverened by three basic principles:

    • Find your edge
    • Become still
    • Hold for time

    Simply put, this means that you go into a pose to the place where you begin to feel resistance and sit with that, moving gradually deeper.   You are able to deepen gradually because in Yin you hold the poses, sometimes for as long as 10 minutes.  This can be very challenging both mentally and physically, but it creates a deep stretch that leaves you feeling like you are walking on clouds.  Most Yin poses are seated poses - nothing crazy, but the more you do the poses the more your body opens to them giving you the flexibility to reach more advanced variations, so it is a practice that works for beginners as well as advanced practitioners.  Wherever you are in your personal practice, Yin will meet you there.


  • Tree Pose - OWY Focus Pose of the Month

    (Tree Pose)

    If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees. 
    ~Hal Borland

    image by June Molgaard of Shannon in the half-lotus vatiation of Tree Pose

    Like all standing balance poses tree pose can be challenging.  But in some ways it’s easier than others because by extending the lifted knee to the side, you stabilize the pelvis and automatically engage the pelvic floor.  When done right, tree pose creates strength in the legs, pelvic floor and abdomen.  David Coulter says in Anatomy of Hatha Yoga, “...tree pose is both grounding and centering, and ... it will generate a sense of deep calm and endless patience.” 

    Brian says: I’d add that it’s also uplifting, at least for me.  I find that after a nice stable tree pose I end up feeling...”lighter”......and maybe even taller.  My breath feels slower and deeper.  I’m calmer.

    Tree pose is also an entryway to lots of fun, cool and challenging poses.  For instance, a next step could be to put the raised foot in half-lotus, then do a standing forward bend.  If you get that far, next squat down on one heel into tip-toe lotus.  (My pose in the Rise and Shine Challenge).  From there, an arm balance.  Come to my class and I’ll show you.

    Tree Pose Benefits:

    • Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
    • Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
    • Improves sense of balance
    • Relieves sciatica

    Tree Pose Warnings:

    Avoid this pose if you have:

    • Migraine/Headache
    • Insomnia
    • Do the prayer hands variation instead of raising your arms overhead if you have high blood pressure.

    Modifications for Tree Pose:

    Beginners can try tree pose on the wall to get a sense of balance.  Even advanced practitioners can benefit from a wall now and then.  It can help to get the alignment spot on.

    You can also increase the challenge at any level by closing your eyes.

    The photograph in this post is of half-lotus tree pose - one of the fun advanced variations Brian mentioned earlier.  For the basic version, press the sole of the foot into the inner thigh and hold the hands in prayer position.  

    If you're new to OWY Focus Pose of the Month:
    This a way to give our students a way of expanding their yogic learning and deepening their understanding of specific asanas.  These poses will not necessarily be included in every class, but you may notice the focus pose, support poses and counter poses recurring in different classes with different teachers representing their own personal perspectives.  We hope that this will give students a chance to more thoroughly learn poses from a variety of vantage points.  

  • 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 :-)