OWY Blog

  • 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

    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'S OPEN WAY
    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. 

    THE ETHICAL FASHION MOVEMENT
    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. 

    THE WAY FORWARD
    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

    BUYING POWER 
    “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

    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.

    ONE PLANET
    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.  

    THE OPEN WAY 
    “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

  • 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