Falling in Love With Yoga… Again. by Brooke Cole

The other day I was filling out an application to attend a work related training that specializes in helping people overcome job related stress and trauma. The application asked to list any specialized training that I had that could be useful for the position. I listed my yoga teaching and practice, including how long I’ve been doing both when it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve been practicing yoga for 18 years! 18 years! While it may not seem like that big of a deal to some, the fact that I’ve been dedicated to anything for that length of time truly amazes me. You see… I’m one of those types of people who has spent a lifetime searching for some greater purpose whether it be an educational degree, a rewarding career, a fulfilling workout regime, or a place of residence that I can truly feel at home in. I have wanted to be an actress, a forensic scientist, a helicopter pilot, and have lived in many different parts of the country and even world. Yoga has been with me through it all. While I may not have practiced the physical form of yoga every day for those 18 years, the philosophy and teachings have been with me every single day since I started practicing. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone like me that tends to float through life, bouncing off of one dream to the next, and often gets bored with routine.

All of this holds a particular relevancy to something that I’ve been experiencing lately on a personal level in regards to my workout routines. Like many women out there I have struggled most of my life with developing a positive body image of myself. I poke and prod, and judge, and cringe when I stare at my reflection in the mirror each day and compare myself to unrealistic ideas. I try to combat those feelings and thoughts of inadequacy by sometimes jumping aboard the latest fitness bandwagon, by pushing and forcing myself into routines and programs to reach self-imposed goals; goals that don’t really have a functional purpose in everyday life, but rather hold me to a self-inflicted standard of beauty all in the name of vanity. You see, I’m not working out to train for anything. I’m not an athlete or a competitive sports lover; in fact I’m quite the opposite. I pride my solitude, like strolls through nature, and would rather play for the enjoyment of it all rather than the competitive need to win. But most of all I’m just a woman that wants to feel good when I put on a pair of shorts. So I give in to all the media bullshit of “try this fad, and you’ll see these results”, or “take these supplements and eat these foods to shed fat”, and while these things may work for some which is great… surprise, surprise, I eventually get bored. And that’s where I am. I’m bored with my usual cardio and strength training routines, bored of going to the gym, I’m bored of boot camps, bored of home workout videos, bored of trying to shed the pounds with fad diets… but more importantly, I’m bored and tired of doing something that feels burdensome and doesn’t make me happy.

And so the other day as I attempted to re-boot my enthusiasm to get back on track with my fitness routine, I found myself struggling big time. Then out of nowhere I heard this little voice from deep inside ask, “Why the fuck are you doing this then?” And the only answer I could come up with was, in order to look good. Not feel good, but look good. And that’s when the insanity of being obsessed with how I look on the outside hit me. It doesn’t matter how good I look on the outside. If I haven’t cleared the shit thoughts about myself cemented deep within my brain, and cellular tissues; no amount of burpees, dead lifts, or fad diets is going to help either. Enter my yoga practice, which I sometimes neglect to focus on, doing other activities like running, or pushups, or burpees (I really hate burpees) and indoor cycling, while mind you… hating every minute of it. But here’s the thing… never have I once felt that way about yoga. (Okay maybe once or twice during a Bikram Yoga class when I secretly wanted to rip my instructor’s face off for barking “more, more, more” at me, but Bikram Yoga is a whole other beast). With that one exception, I’ve never hated going to my yoga mat. It’s like that funny meme that floats around the Internet, ‘”I regret going to yoga”, said no one ever.’ Lately I find myself gravitating towards my yoga mat like a Rebel Starfighter being pulled to the Death Star by a tractor beam. But for some barbaric reason, over the past several years, I have put losing weight, which I really don’t need to lose that much of, ahead of my yoga practice… and I’m tired of doing that. Which got me thinking about the New Year, and I what I want it to look like for myself.

One of the reasons yoga has become such a powerful force in my life, is because of the physiological and psychological changes that come with a regular practice. In class the other night, we discussed the power of our thoughts and belief systems that we have about ourselves and how yoga can help to change that. We have about 60,000 thoughts a day, 95% of them are the same that we loop over and over again, while 80% of them tend to be negative. We spend our waking hours in a conscious stream of thought in what is called Beta brain wave activity. The majority of our thoughts however, are unconscious, or thoughts that can only be accessed or changed during Theta Brain wave activity and are harder to change during Beta activity. These thoughts shape much of how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. It’s helpful to think of an iceberg to understand the magnitude of this. A very small piece of an iceberg representing our conscious or Beta thought patterns is seen above the surface of the ocean. But if we go deep underwater, we find a much larger portion of the iceberg representing our subconscious or Theta thoughts. This is where the power of yoga comes in. In yoga we spend much of our class linking our breath with certain movements, and enter into a Theta brain wave state. By accessing those thoughts in our yoga class, we have the ability to start changing the thought streams that persist in our consciousness that don’t serve us, and replace them with more nurturing, positive ones.

So for me, this New Year ushers in the awareness and resolve to start doing more of what I truly love to do, by spending more time at the base of the iceberg and not worrying so much about the surface appearances. From now on I’m working out to initiate real change, not just the superficial change located at the exterior or tip of the iceberg, but rather the stuff that lurks at the bottom and has me believe that I’m fat or unworthy. This year I resolve to do more of what I love to do, and let go of the shit that brings me down. (This means you burpees). I resolve to dedicate myself to be the best person I possibly can, and let go of norms and standards that are imposed on me by an image-obsessed, commercialized, profit hungry world. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that, “a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  Well, that’s going to be me from now on… a good traveler. A traveler who recognizes what makes me happy and what doesn’t… and if it doesn’t… giving myself the permission to let that shit go, and do more of that I love.

Namaste lovelies… and Happy New Year.

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