Set a Kinder Resolution for 2014

Dawn

I know a lot of folks will be setting new year’s resolutions to lose weight because we’re all trained to think of ourselves as fat and fat as bad … so I’m not comfortable promoting my yoga classes like, “Hey, let me help you with that totally body-shaming and self-hating resolution.” Maybe this new year you could make it your goal to make peace with your body instead. If you want to try a compassionate approach to your health, I would love to have you in my yoga classes this year.

Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll introduce you to the basics poses for beginners and incorporate them in a gentle flow class. I’ll adjust and modify poses to support your unique physical needs — whether your concern is as simple as tight hamstrings or chronic illness, there is a yoga practice for you. I’ll give you support and guidance as you deepen your practice. I’ll promise to always keep learning.

Here’s what you’ll do: Show up. Be open to learning. Be kind to yourself. Choose to work at a level that challenges you but respects the needs and limitations of your body — we all have some!

Classes resume on a normal schedule tomorrow, Jan. 2, 2014. I’ll be teaching online and in the studio, so you can catch me at either place.

This is about as much self promotion I can handle in one blog post, but I just want y’all to know I can’t wait to work with you in 2014. My goal as a yoga teacher is not to make you lose weight but to help you realize you’re already fucking amazing. So… you know. If you’re down with that, come see me.

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Monday Night Nonfiction: Who Showed Up

Untitled

Last week, I had a yoga class with only one student. This happens a lot. It’s just part of being a yoga teacher in a small studio, especially when you’re subbing. If only one person shows up, I still hold a class. If no one shows up, I try to stay and do my own practice. This time, I wasn’t feeling so great. I was recovering from the flu, I was groggy from NyQuil, and I’ll admit I would’ve been happy to go back to bed.

The person who showed up was woman in her early 50s who we’ll call Liz. Liz has been a pretty consistent yoga student for some time now, and we’ve practiced together a lot over the summer.

Liz let me know that she’d suffered a dizzy spell in another teacher’s class last week. The episode was a total surprise to her, and she was pretty alarmed by it. The other teacher suggested that it could be caused by dehydration and/or a drop in blood pressure, so Liz was making sure to stay hydrated and had gotten her blood pressure checked. She even had plans to see the eye doctor next to rule out any vision-related causes. I know she has a strong yoga practice and can hang with a pretty intense vinyasa, but this new information made me glad I’d planned a gentle class.

We had a really great practice together. It was slow, meditative, and focused. Rather than moving quickly through a lot of poses, we slowed down and connected with the breath more deeply in each pose. By the end of class, Liz definitely had a greater sense of calm around her. Still, in our closing meditation, her eyebrows were furrowed and her face was tense. Her chest seemed tight, as though her breath wasn’t moving freely. When I closed my eyes to meditate with her, I felt the strangest sense of holding, like a jaw clinched so tight it starts to create dizziness. I know that sounds nutty, but that’s really the sense I got.

When class ended, I said, “Liz, I should’ve asked you this earlier when you told me about your dizzy spell, but … how has life in general been for you lately? Has it been kindof chaotic? Or are things going along normally?”

She immediately began to cry. She told me about a death that took place in her family several months ago and how she simply hadn’t felt the same since. She felt powerless to help her loved ones in addition to some intense grief that she couldn’t really talk to anyone about. It seemed like she mostly needed someone to talk to, but those intense emotions were also creating some major anxiety for her. I told her about a meditation technique I use when dealing with intense emotions in hopes that it would help her.

When Liz left, she seemed a little bit comforted. Maybe being listened to was all she needed. Maybe she’ll try that meditation technique, and it’ll help deal with the emotions. I’m glad she’s checking out possible medical causes for sure! Maybe it’s a little vain of me to think I might have helped someone. All I did was listen and give some potentially useless advice. But I dunno. I felt like I had an opportunity to help someone, which was cool. She left smiling. She gave me a hug. It was a good day.

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My Ideal Student

It's all yoga, baby.

  • My ideal yoga student is the person who doesn’t think yoga is for people like her.
  • I want to teach people who desperately need a few minutes of peace in their days.
  • I want to teach young people who are looking for a fulfilling way to be in the world.
  • I want to teach women who are sick of being at war with their bodies.
  • I want to teach men who are fed up with stereotypes about masculinity.
  • I want to teach people who believe they have something to offer the world and just need the time and space to unlock it.

I just thought I should put that out there. I love the folks I’m teaching yoga to these days. I love their curiosity, sense of humor, and willingness to try new things. I love that they make time for yoga when they can.

I feel like there’s definitely a community out there that wants to break the digital barrier down even more with online yoga practices. I feel fortunate to be in a position to serve those people. I’m a gamer with a bunch of engineer and programmer friends scattered around the country, so our friendships have revolved around IRC, video games, Skype calls and video chats, so it just made sense to extend that to the online classes. I’m really excited about how well it’s been going, and can’t really shut up about it, can I?

So, I just wanted you to know that if the above sounds like you, I really think we would work well together. I would absolutely adore meeting you.

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7 Reasons I Love My Yoga Students

Chattai yoga asanas goa india by Denise Weiner

At the risk of seeming like a total weirdo hippy, I gotta say: I love my yoga students. You don’t always realize how much your teacher appreciates you, so I wanna share my reasons why I adore every last person who comes to my yoga class.

  1. Yoga students are brave. Tons of people are simply scared to try doing yoga, either because it seems weird to them or because they’re self-conscious. Showing up to a class and trying something new is incredibly nervy, and I admire everyone who finds the strength to do it.
  2. Yoga students are beautiful. And I’m not talking about skinny people in tight pants. I’m talking about individuals at every level of health showing up and doing really great work with whatever physical and mental condition you’re in. To see people do work like that is inspiring.
  3. Yoga students educate their teachers. I don’t know what it’s like to be in your body or live your life, so when we practice yoga together, I learn from you at least as much as you learn from me. You challenge me and make me want to improve as a teacher.
  4. Yoga students make the world a better place. Look, none of us is perfect, but in yoga practice we do our best to improve ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. Every time you improve yourself, you improve the world. I’m grateful that you take the time to take care of yourself.
  5. Yoga students are open-minded — open to trying new things, open to learning about themselves, open to the present moment, open to connection. I think that’s just a fabulous quality for anyone to have.
  6. Yoga students make the class. Without you, what’s the point of me standing around talking about downward dog? What you bring to the class — your energy, your sense of humor, your unique challenges — that literally makes the class. The reason we like doing yoga in groups rather than alone is often simply because practicing with other people is more fun!
  7. Teaching you is an honor. Your health is a very personal thing, and meditation is a profoundly deep experience. To be trusted enough to guide you through a yoga practice and meditation is a big responsibility, and I am both honored and humbled when you choose to share your practice with me.

So, thanks for being who you are, for honoring and challenging yourself, for sharing your experience of yoga with your classmates and your teachers, and for simply showing up. Namaste!

xoxo~

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Online Yoga Classes Begin Today!

Photo credit:  www.localfitness.com.au

Hey guys, today I’m giving my first ever online yoga class. I’ve had a lot of people say they’d love to try my class if they lived closer, and I really wanted to make yoga available to all of you.

Every Thursday, I’ll give a beginner-to-intermediate class for you to get familiar with the poses and concepts of yoga. I’ll also be adding a deep relaxation class soon! For detailed class descriptions, check out my schedule.

Today’s class filled up surprisingly quickly, but you can sign up for future classes on the registration page. Once you register, I’ll send you an e-mail with details about how to participate.

Right now, the online classes will be donation based for several reasons. First, I’m still figuring out the technology involved in doing this. There may be some costs down the road, which will figure into any pricing that I do set. Second, I really want this class to be available to as many people as possible. So, if you’ve never tried yoga and aren’t sure about spending money on it, or if you just don’t have much cash to spare right now, I can sympathize. Try a class and see how it goes for you, and you can donate whatever you feel is appropriate to help keep it going.

Or if you wanna donate now just because you’re nice, I’ve added a button for that on the front page.

If you have questions, use the contact page to get in touch. Thanks, and I can’t wait to see you in class!

xoxo!

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