Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Betty Larsen & John Charping

Jacksonville teacher, El Grabar is hosting her senior teachers in February!   Come enjoy a mindful, focused, meditative practice of asana, pranayama, and deep relaxation.

Betty Larsen & John Charping
Sunday, February 28, 2010
1:30 - 6 p.m.
Palm Valley Community Center
148 Canal Blvd. - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
$50 if register by January 30th; after 1/30/10 - $65

For more details & a registration flyer, please contact El at (904) 534 - 8546.

How Are You?

How are you?   Over the course of a lifetime, we utter this phrase & receive this phrase countless times.  Only 3 words.   Now read it differently each time.

HOW are you?
How ARE you?
How are YOU?

Read the same phrase & emote a variety of feelings as you say the words.   Compassion.  Anger.  Bewilderment.  Empathy.

All it takes is a change of emphasis & the whole meaning changes.  

So, how are you?  How are you doing with your personal practice?  Is it time to shift the emphasis of your practice?   Time to shift the meaning or feeling of your practice?  Is it time to deepen your understanding of your practice & welcome the full potential that this inquiry provides?

Join us to discover the many more ways that you can change the emphasis.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Garden of the Heart Yoga

While we are offering an exceptional experience with senior teachers here in Jacksonville on Florida's north east coast, there's a strong line up of teacher's slated to come to Florida's south west coast in 2010.   Wonderful senior teachers are coming to Sarasota's Garden of the Heart Yoga Center.   To learn more, please visit

Sarasota, FL - Garden of the Heart Yoga - 2010 Workshops
Jan.  29-31 Amy Ippoliti
March 12-14 Paul Muller
April 30-May 2 Moses Brown
August 20-22 Martin Kirk on Anatomy for Yogi's 
October 1-3 Sommer & Paul Sobin
December 3-5 Douglas Brooks 

Garden of the Heart Yoga, located in Sarasota, FL, is owned by Betsey Downing, PhD.   She is a phenomenal Anusara-Certified teacher.   I often give her Yoga Nidra CD as a gift.   As well, she has several video practices available for purchase on her website.  Jaye Martin, her teaching colleague, also has practice videos available.  I highly recommend both teachers.   And, if you are ever in the Sarasota area, be sure to practice with them!  

Friday, January 8, 2010

Relaxtion Response

"Tools in the toolbox" is one of my favorite sayings.   Our team of medical & wellness providers are a big part of our team - and they wield the best tools to keep us on the ground on our own two feet.   We also are fully responsible for our own bodies.   The more we actively participate in the process of our well-being (rather than depending on someone else to do it for us), the better we feel.

This is what mind/body forms of movement - such as Yoga - provide all of us!   An amazing gift to participate in our well-being, Yoga meets us where we are on our path.

With my legs literally going out from under me this week, I've been reminded of the importance of the Relaxation Response both for us as teachers and for our students.   The Relaxation Response is the opposite of the body's "fight or flight" response mechanism.  Due to the nature of our lives, most of us live in constant "fight or flight."   We call it stress.   Modern pharmaceuticals advertise to us to help alleviate this condition.

An important thing to know is that you can discharge this response - and we must discharge.   Every time I see our dog do a full body shake -- I know she is discharging the fight or flight response from her body.   We may all look crazy shaking like a dog after bad news or an interaction with another person -- but what if we could do it privately?    I learned something from a senior Gyrotonic teacher called the "7 Shakes."

Raise your right arm above your head (or out if you have a shoulder injury) - shake it 7 times.
Raise your left arm above your head - shake it 7 times.
Extend your right leg - shake it 7 times.
Extend your left leg -shake it 7 times.
Keep breathing.
Repeat the sequence.  
Shake each appendage 6 times.
Then 5 times.
Then 4 times.
Until you get to 1shake each.
Stand (or if you did this sitting) - pause and feel the difference.
Feel that you are no longer stuck with your thoughts.  Are probably smiling (mostly because it made you feel silly, eh?).  And now, you can move on!

What's interesting is earlier this week, my husband was watching a science show about stress and hierarchy.   The researchers were studying baboons.   The baboons on the lowest rung of the clan had the most stress.   The head baboon - almost none.   The scientists were comparing their research with the human response.

One of the fantastic things about being human is our minds.   We can change our mind & truly change our world.   So, maybe we aren't the "top dog" or "top baboon" in our universe, but how we respond to what occurs is our choice.

In our Yoga & other mind/body classes, we teach people how to illicit the Relaxation Response.   We help them re-pattern - forming new grooves & pathways in the body/mind.   Yes, we still have our "stuff," but how respond to our stuff is what's different.   We learn to shake it off.   Or we begin to see the patterns.

In 2010 our Advanced Studies program here in Jacksonville, top teachers from many disciplines are coming to town.  These teachers will provide us with "more tools in the toolbox."   Enabling us to self-care better & serve others better.   Please be sure to check out the website & see if any or all of the training may be appropriate for you.   Many elements are open to students, too.   So if you have students who are deeply interested, please feel welcome to refer them!

And, finally - for those who are like my lovable husband - and need a bit  more science to back up claims, I offer the following.    The Relaxation Response is proven to work on pain.   Many controlled trials have proven the value of the Relaxation Response in decreasing both acute & chronic pain.   Studies have shown that the Relaxation Response can predictably be triggered.  The following information comes from an extremely comprehensive 1996 review article published in The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.   The review showed that the Relaxation Response has been shown to be the most beneficial in helping all kinds of painful conditions, both acute & chronic.    Here's a sample from the article.

Acute & Chronic Conditions Proved to be Helped by the Relaxation Response
Acute Pain - after gallbladder removal, after hernia repair, after a hemorrhoidectomy, after an abdominal hystorectomy, after the repair of a fractured hip, after an episiotomy.
Chronic Pain - low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, leg pain, facial pain, headaches, chest pain

Let's all learn more!   And together feel better & teach others how to feel better too!   Take advantage of all the amazing senior teachers coming to Jacksonville who will teach us so many great proven techniques.   Join us starting in March for a phenomenal year of training!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On My Knees

I don't think too many of us get through life without some sort of challenge - body, mind, or spirit.   We all have something.  Our Yoga practice provides many tools to face these obstacles.  

I had a recent wake up call on many levels this past week.    I am currently on crutches.   My rare joint disease has re-announced its presence in my right knee.   For over a year, thanks to a team of professionals (bodyworkers, chiropractor, acupuncture/homeopathy) as well as a focused therapeutic approach to both my Yoga & Pilates practices, I have been relatively pain free.   And when I hear stories of others who have this disease, I am awed by our bodies ability to bring us to our knees.

Most of all, I am grateful for my support system.   Family & friends, students & colleagues, wellness providers & my senior teachers have all taught me something.   They have shared with me insights & ideas.   They have listened & pontificated.    Each, in some way, has shown me the way.

Last night, I was able to begin some active Yoga therapy on my body.   I can not even begin to express how grateful I am for John Friend's ability to distill complex ideas into a comprehensible system called Anusara Yoga that allows you to work pain free.   His Universal Principles of Alignment are the foundation of the solution for me.   Combining Anusara's methodology with some of the amazing therapeutic techniques I've learned from Jenny Otto & my Pilates training, I was able to integrate as well as create space & length.    With my Anatomy Trains knowledge (thank you Tom Meyers), I have been able to unlock some of the myofascia as well.

Like many others, managing pain will most likely be a life long process for me.   Pain will knock on my door throughout my life - affecting my body, mind, and spirit.   Being able to be present and breathe with the pain is something I have learned, too, from my practice.   Using my breath to expand the places that need space as well as connecting with my breath as a means to connect with my life force - has also been a powerful practice.

While I may be humbled and literally on bended knee, I am not down.   My gaze is inward and my heart lifts upward.   Thanks to the practice.   Ishvara Pranidhana.


Check out this wonderful excerpt from Gary Kraftsow on Svadhyaya.