Ouch, That Hurts: Blue Yoga Mat by Tracy Fitzwater

I’ll be the first to admit that my attendance at yoga can be sporadic. I try for once a week, and am generally very happy with twice a week, and if I make it to a third practice, it’s both great and somewhat unusual. And because I’m retired, I don’t have a schedule that makes sense to anyone but me. However, when I want to go to yoga, I’m there. And it was going well for me until I got injured.

I’m not exactly sure where I got hurt, but I know it was from overuse. In addition to yoga, I also work out at Cageworx, and on Tuesdays, I zip over from the 4:00 yoga class to the 5:00 fitness kickboxing class, and I also go to the Wednesday & Friday noon classes.  While yoga is mostly gentle, and very introspective, fitness kickboxing is just the opposite. There is loud music, it’s very active, and there is hitting and kicking accompanied by a lot of sweat. It’s a different bunch of muscle groups, and much like yoga, it’s fun to see improvements. In yoga, it’s holding chair longer or level arms in Warrior II, while in kickboxing, it’s hitting the heavy bag harder and improving on various kicks. And, for me, improving my biceps. Such a small thing, but my accomplishment nonetheless.

The injury happened at home, but it was for a sort of prideful dumb moment – I was showing off my new, improved push up to my husband. I was part way down, and all of a sudden it just hurt – what just happened?! That put a stop to that push up in a big hurry, and I didn’t think too much about it until a couple of days later when my entire shoulder and collarbone hurt. And since I’m not a fan of  pain, I quit going – to everything.

So now what? The shoulder and other connected parts are feeling better, and I haven’t done a pushup since then. I ice it down when I need to. I’ve pretty much stayed home, and gone back to walking. But the problem is, I miss yoga!! I miss kickboxing!! I miss exercise that makes me sweat and contemplate life!! It’s absolutely no fun to get injured, and while I know I have to take it easy, I want to go back. And more than that, I feel disconnected from the studio and the people who are also practicing with me. I feel part of this particular community, and I didn’t realize how much I had come to rely on, and appreciate this. As I listen to my body, I’m ready to reconnect….back to the mat. Back to yoga twice a week, and kickboxing fitness twice a week. Back to my version of a schedule.

 

WHY YOGA? by Tracy Fitzwater

How did I come to yoga, and stick with it for two plus years? I had dabbled in yoga, first after I graduated from college and moved to Port Angeles, and then a few years ago at the school where I taught before I retired. Both of those experiences were fairly short-lived, but the idea of practicing yoga didn’t go away. I believe I liked the idea of practicing yoga, and once I began going to yoga class, I realized that yoga is much harder than it looks.

My son’s girlfriend, a dedicated practitioner, invited me to my first class at Poser Yoga. I think she paid for my attendance that day, but I’m not really sure. Downward Dog absolutely killed me – trouble getting into the pose, shaking arms, desperate thoughts, and that was just the first one that day! However, I went back. I’m kind of surprised I did, to be honest, because the physical part of yoga wasn’t all that much fun. It was very challenging.

But then something started to happen, and yoga became more than the poses. One day the question was asked – what do you want out of yoga? I realized I didn’t want to be one of those old ladies who fall over, break my hip, and that’s it – down and out. I wanted balance and strength, and if it wasn’t too much to ask for, a bit of grace. I’ve never felt totally comfortable in my body; maybe this was a way to find that acceptance. And, I wanted to be a retired person who lived long and healthy, and I had a good feeling that yoga might be part of how I reinvented myself.

When I go to yoga now, my head is in a very different place. I practice, for the most part, with my eyes closed. I focus on my breathing. I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and so some of those poses that get held, Downward Dog, Chair, Warrior I and II, are very manageable and holdable – I’m not begging in my mind for release. And if something is too much, I have no problem dropping into Tabletop or Child’s Pose; I’m not competing with anyone. I’ve come a long way since that first session.

What would I say to someone thinking about starting a yoga practice? It’s harder than it looks, but it’s very doable. Your practice is unique to you. Use the props, and don’t feel as if that’s cheating – it isn’t. Appreciate breathing, and don’t be surprised when your breathing gets better, too. Wait for the quiet in the practice, and not just in the studio, in your mind. And appreciate the community that comes together – that final clearing breath, the collective Om, and Namaste bring it all full circle. It’s an hour that really does honor the divine in all of us.

And that’s my yoga story.

 

“I started Yoga when I started chemotherapy… ” A Yogi Story

“I started Yoga when I started chemotherapy, January 2016. I hadn’t ever done Yoga or chemo before, so it made sense in a way. My daughter found Senior Yoga at Poser YOGA and said I needed to do it. My daughter is always right. My doctor also said, “The more you do, the more you will feel like doing.” She was right too.

The first pose I mastered was Final Relaxation. My second was Child’s Pose. The 6-week session was over before I knew it, and the second series rolled into a third and fourth. In Senior Yoga I found a caring community of women who were quick to praise progress and accomplishment, and quick to offer compassion for injury and bereavement. Laughter and love. In Yoga I found a way to distance myself from the physical and emotional clamor of chemo. I found a place, if only temporary, of neutral space and quiet where I could find my inner strength. Surprising what happens when you only breathe.

Yoga is non-judgmental and teaches self-discovery and appreciation. I went to each class with whatever I had that day. I valued my flexibility and recognized my balance wasn’t what it used to be. I was always the one in class facing left when everyone else was looking right. Over the weeks, Supported Fish and Happy Baby poses became part of my muscle memory.

My chemo ended in August and more 6-week sessions rolled by. Firmly in remission in January 2017, I ‘promoted’ myself to Beginner Basics, seeking new challenges. Warrior One was difficult enough on its own; why did there have to be a Warrior Two? And Exalted Warrior and Humble Warrior? While trying to coordinate all of my limbs into a balanced and cohesive pose, I thought of other names of the pose, like —- Warrior, always remembering to breathe.

Two classes a week, not one, steepened my learning curve. I accepted my Tree Pose would have a ‘kick stand’. The first time I did a Downward Dog that felt like it could be a resting pose was sublime. I squared my hips in Warrior One, and kept my back arm lifted in Warrior Two. Yes!!!

In Poser YOGA’s Summer Challenge I won two free classes and decided to try two new classes. You are supposed to leave every day concerns at the door to the studio, but reality intrudes in the form of prior commitments. Restorative Yoga was serene, but weekend time slots don’t work for me. The schedule and rhythm of Slow Flow was better. Time to ‘graduate’ out of Basics, even if it meant a later dinner.

Always willing to push, I dared myself into a Strong Flow noon class. Note to self: walking and biking do not build upper body strength. I rendered a graceful Side Plank Twist into a flailing corkscrew disaster that safely ended in only a resounding ‘thud’! Child’s Pose for me for the rest of that sequence. Humbling, and an opportunity to improve.

For now I will switch between Slow Flow and Strong Flow as they fit my schedule. My daughter, now a certified Yoga instructor in Los Angeles, and I are attending a weekend Yoga retreat in Ojai for my birthday in February. As she said, “You have three months to get in shape, Mom.””

We’d like to acknowledge Sara Becker, for sharing her story with such courage and vulnerability. What a journey this amazing woman is traveling, and we are so pleased to be along for the ride. We’ve watched her progress from Senior Yoga to Strong Flow. Yoga is reversing the aging process and she continues to get stronger every day! It’s never too late to start Yoga, and Sara is a perfect example!

In January we have some exciting changes coming for our Senior Yoga series! We will now be offering two levels, which will allow us to provide more precise instruction, based on what our students need and want.

If Senior Yoga seems right for you or someone you know, please follow this link for information and/or registration: https://poserstudios.com/senior-yoga-sher/ or call us at 360.393.0977.

*Sign up by the end of November and get our current rate of $55/series. In December, our prices will be going up.

Candlelight Yoga, December 3rd

Okay everyone, you’ve been waiting patiently for this…

It’s time to slow down.

Give yourself permission to rest. Blowing through life will not earn you a medal. Rest your head, rest your heart, rest your bones, dear One.

 

Embrace the change of season, conserve your energy, stoke your inner fire, and go deep within.

Join Brooke Cole and Jenny Stewart Houston for a Restorative/Yin Yoga session, followed by a guided Nidra Yoga meditation and warm tea. You’ll be so glad you did.

Pssst…. The first 8 to reserve with payment will get $5.00 off! Register here!

{Monthly Members, this one is on us! Please let us know if you’re planing to come, and we’ll reserve your spot. Don’t sign up online, or it’ll charge you!}

Sunday, December 3rd
5-7PM
$25/ticket

What do you get when you practice with Ann Carlson?

I asked Ann to describe to me what she feels her students get from her when they come to her classes. And in thoughtful and delicate fashion, Ann delivered MORE than I could put into a poster. Here are her words, and you’ll soon see why a class with her is unlike any others at Poser YOGA.

“I like to think it’s the marriage between my eastern and western Yoga training that make me unique. My first training, with two very experienced and revered “western” Yoga women was a wonderful foundation to begin my teaching path. They covered the entirety of the Yoga practice/lifestyle, with lots of emphasis on anatomy and energetics which translates in class to what my teacher calls “evolutionary sequencing”. Meaning there is a rhyme and a reason for each pose, pause, breath, and movement.. strengthening and lengthening muscle groups in a way that feels cohesive and makes sense to the body, limiting the risk of injury and hopefully giving the class a sense of fluidity and grace. From that strong foundation I moved on to my 300 hr training in India, where I studied “Sattva” Yoga, Sattva meaning WHOLE. I deepened my understanding of the power of mediation, pranayama, and kriya in addition to asana and how to use these to break through old patterns, habits and “bio-memory”… things we store in our body over the course of our life. I weave these practices into my classes for what I consider to be a well-rounded and thoughtful practice, a nice marriage of the West and East. I’ve never taught the same class twice as I like to keep it fresh and base my classes on the energetics of the current environment we as human beings inhabit. I also like for my students to learn something in class outside of how to do a pose; for example during a side stretch I might say “the major muscle being stretched here is the QL in your low back, which bears a lot of weight throughout our daily lives sitting and hunching over and in front of computers or in our cars, it loves to release that tension and tightness”. Ultimately, my goal isn’t to get students into fancy-looking poses, it’s to help them get to know and understand their bodies on a deeper level, noticing more subtle layers within themselves and ultimately cultivating the witness or observer of themselves. We’re talking mindfulness here. I want people to come to their mats to feel peace, to notice when the shadows inside them arise, not to judge themselves but to accept their experiences with grace and ultimately bring more mindfulness not only into their relationship with their bodies but their every day life.”

And let’s close with a quote that resonates with Ann, and completely embodies her (if might add!!) from her 200 hour teacher, Gina…

Don’t wait. Carpe diem! Life is precious and fleeting and we must fearlessly face that which keeps us from our potential. Do the hard, hard work to transcend those regressive patterns NOW. Seek the teachers who guide us toward that transformative edge. And at the same time, infuse your life with leisurely pursuits, see the humor in this journey, and get your butt out into Nature. What an essential teacher she is!!

Get Your Poser YOGA Apparel!! Deadline is OCTOBER 27th

Hey, hey, hey!!!!

We’re getting ready to order more Poser YOGA apparel for our shoppe and we’re giving you an opportunity to choose the style, colour and size YOU want!! We’re sending out the order at the end of the month, so the deadline for personal orders and payment is: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27th.

All pre-orders will get 10% off…. and members get 15%.

The catalogue will be available at the studio, as well as order forms. Below are links to the catalogue and the order form if you’d like to prepare your order beforehand, and bring it into the studio. (Click on the image.)

 

 

 

 

GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS Series: A Yoga Journey with Ann Carlson

Yesterday our dear, kind-hearted teacher Ann​ shared her thoughts on the most recent national tragedy, and how she turns to Yoga to help calm the flurry of emotions and fears. Thank you, Ann. Your perspective is on point, and such a good reminder that we truly DO get to choose the thoughts we think, and how we respond to things that happen around us and to us. Love and light to you, and to all beings.

 

GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS Series: A Yoga Journey with Ann Carlson
It’s a tough Monday. I’m walking around my house and can’t seem to finish one task. My mind can’t focus as the events in Las Vegas last night are so fresh, Tom Petty’s death is strewn about all over social media, Port Angeles is scheduled to slide into the sea any minute now (earthquake woes), natural disasters everywhere, my cramps are worse than ever today and I don’t have the energy to cook (I’m hangry). There are so many things wrong in the world today, so much fear, so much negativity. It’s easy to fall down the worm-hole of it all, feeling hopeless and helpless. I think it’s valid to feel those low-level energies, they are the first steps on the path of renewal, action and hope. Another struggle I often feel is white/first world guilt. When I see the tragedies happening all over the planet, all the people suffering, I can’t help but think “why me?” Why do I get to live comfortably? Why is my life so easy? It doesn’t seem fair at all.

Enter Yoga.

Yoga has taught me that opposites are necessary. That without darkness there is no light. That life is hard, and bleak, and terrible sometimes but that love wouldn’t feel so good, powerful, strong and healing if we didn’t also have the experiences of fear and hate. Yoga can help transmute those low-level energies into new awakenings, new perspectives. So today instead of walking around feeling helpless, unworthy of my good life, frustrated at the world; I stopped. I sat and I put my hands on my heart and I bowed my head and cried. Instead of trying to analyze and label and wonder “Why” I let the feelings come through my body and out my teary eyes, I felt my heart get warm and I connected to a space bigger, more spacious that is overflowing with love. Love for myself and love for the world. I felt hope. I felt the weight lifting. I opened my eyes and felt almost instantly re-charged by my little love/cry mediation. Because what yoga teaches you is that it doesn’t always have to look like a pose, you don’t even have to move to be “doing yoga”. You can live every minute of every day practicing your yoga. Practicing mindfulness. Witnessing your experiences without judgment and reaction, moving from a place of connection to your truth is very powerful; and your truth is always love. It’s been my experience that things like forgiveness, hope, love, compassion and empathy; they’re stronger than their lower counter parts. They aren’t going anywhere, either. They will always be there to grab a hold of in the face of fear and tragedy. If you’re new to yoga and reading this, you might be attracted to yoga because of the physical benefits, but the coolest part about it in my opinion is the way it will start to show up in your life outside of class. We practice patience, non-judgment, self-acceptance in our physical practice, so we shouldn’t be surprised when that compassion starts to change our lives outside the studio. The world can always use more love and light, and it starts with cultivating it inside ourselves so we can give of it freely to others.

OH-SO-GRATEFUL

Good morning, Dear Ones!

We are all so lucky to have one another, and though life can get tough, and confusing, and challenging, and especially bleak at times, we have each other to lean on.

Every day that I step into our little Yoga studio, I know I will be met with smiles, kind eyes, understanding hearts, and even hugs — sometimes all you gotta do is ask!

STUDENTS: Your courage to be vulnerable; your dedication to your practice; your willingness to go deep, even if it’s dark… I admire you and acknowledge you.

TEACHERS: Your full hearts; your talents and wisdom; the time you give; the love you give… I thank you and appreciate you.

Together, our community is UNIQUE, and INSPIRING, and STRONG. We are moving mountains, one breath at a time, one heartbeat at a time.

We are changing the lives of everyone we meet, because we are taking the time to be with OURSELVES — our thoughts, our perceptions, our judgements, our limitations.

We are willing to say, “I’m perfectly IMPERFECT.”

We are willing to ride the waves of our HUMANness and experience the entire spectrum of emotion.

We are willing to do the ‘work’ it takes to find peace in our hearts, and fluidity in our relationships.

We are NOT willing to numb ourselves to the woes of life.

We are NOT willing to compromise our happiness and our faith in love.

We are NOT willing succumb to our fears.

Thank you for being here, and thank you for contributing to ‘us’.

Thank you for being open, and receptive, and available, in ALL areas of your life. Someone you know might need you right now.

We are FAMILY.

xx JSH

WHY YOGA: Rachel Storck

Rachel Storck is a bombshell of a Yoga Babe. Beautiful, strong, and so very sweet. She’s been on our team of Karma cleaners this past summer and she’s been such a delight to have as part of our Poser family. She will be leaving for the winter, and our fingers are crossed that she returns next summer! Please take a moment to read her story. It’s touching, honest, and thoughtful. She truly IS a badass, in the best of ways! Thank you for sharing a little part of yourself, Rachel. Your story will inspire others, in ways you might never know. xx

Why Yoga? 
My journey to Yoga has not been especially exciting. I was interested in learning a new craft, some physical fitness, and a way to quiet my thoughts and mind. Also, I just thought it’d be badass to be able to do some of these poses. Have ya’ll seen some of these?! Seriously. DAMN. I have been practicing when I have time (on and off) for a few years now, sometimes Youtube-lead home practice and sometimes at a class. What I really want to share is a much more recent experience of what Yoga has done for me.

I am an intelligent person. I am resourceful and capable and giving and amazing. I love to celebrate the joys and strengths of being a woman and all the inspiring women around me. I like to laugh in the face of culturally constructed beauty standards telling me how to be my most beautiful self. Despite all of this, a parasite of negativity wormed its way into how I felt about myself, about my body. I kept focusing on what was wrong with my body- getting chubby in my stomach and thighs. It just continued to bother me. The worst part was that my intelligence and fiercely feminist beliefs were still in place, telling me that my size did not matter; however, I just couldn’t bring myself to feel that way. The gap between what I had always thought and what I actually felt was distressing me. If I truly believed that my body was worthy of love, then why did I frown every time I looked down? And believe me, my divine spark was telling me how fabulous I was, I just didn’t quite fully believe it. It’s a hard thing when your brain and heart are contradicting each other.

I was doing Yoga before this happened. And so I continued to do Yoga- if anything is supposed to help this, it’s Yoga right? I went to class. And another class. Another. Etc. And for a long time, nothing changed. It took a lot classes and a lot of work mentally before I started believing in the goodness of my body again. But I did! Yoga did that for me. Yoga gave me the opportunity to take time to just be with my body without insane beauty standards. I got to feel the strength in my thighs right there under my hands in a seated pose or working to hold me in a warrior pose. I got to reacquaint myself with my tummy- oh yeah, she’s there, but guess what she works hard too! Every class was a small reminder that taking the time to be there was an act of kindness to myself and that I was absolutely worthy of that, that my body deserved that.

I love my curves, my big ol’ butt, and that little extra jiggle. I can’t run as long as I’d like. I can’t really do more than one chaturanga properly. But here’s the thing that Yoga has put into perspective- the goals that I have cannot be reached without the support of my body. My body and I are together in this. Yoga helped me to regain the confidence in and love for my body that I had lost for a little bit. Yoga gave me the space, opportunity, and time to reunite my heart, mind, and body.

“These curves are kickin’
These thighs are strong
I love this body
That’s my song!”


Care to Share?
Have you had an ‘a-ha‘ moment? A shift in perspective? Why do YOU practice Yoga? Please tell us more… (psst…you’ll get a mini yoga photoshoot out of it!!)