Pottstown’s High Street Yoga; Room to Stretch, Quiet to Reflect

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yoga for Stress Reduction

A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well." ~Unknown

Are you constantly overworked, checking text messages and e-mails, always connected to work? Do you take care of your kids and spend all day giving and not taking care of you? Is it difficult to find time to relax with friends or family? Do you wish for a simpler life, more time with family and more time for you? Constant overwork and lack of rest can affect your physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Maybe you’ve heard that yoga is good for you. Maybe you’ve even tried yoga in a class or on a video and it helped you feel good. There are specific health and stress reducing benefits that you can expect from practicing yoga regularly.

Yoga is a natural way to deal with stress. Yoga asana (poses), pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation effect mind, body and spirit.
Beyond the physical benefits of stretching and strengthening the body, yoga poses can help reduce stress. Yoga asana help stimulate and energize the body. The poses work on the energy centers of the body, also known as the chakras. As energy is released, it flows easily and readily through the body; so you have more energy and vitality to cope with demanding tasks. That means more energy to face stressful times and more energy to enjoy life.

Yogic breathing exercises (pranayama) help calm the nervous system and increase oxygen levels and blood supply to the internal organs, all of which lead to a deeper sense of calm, inner peace and balance. Learning how to breathe correctly is a skill you can use anytime during the day when you feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. It is something you can do at home, work or even while sitting in traffic. Next time you find yourself in a stressful situation take a deep full breath in through the nose and out through the nose. Repeat this for 5 breathes keeping your attention on the breath and nothing else. Chances are the angry thought, stressful moment, fear or worry will have passed during those five breaths.

To understand more about stress, some facts and myths check out the article in Counseling Corner by Michelle Herrigel licensed psychologist titled Stressed Out; Some Myths and Facts about Stress

Stress is part of our life. Today, if you feel stressed, take a deep breath and remember: the way you handle it shapes both today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

There's Always time for Yoga

A mantra I need to repeat to myself often….. Getting ready for a weekend camping with friends I waited until the last minute to pack. In between clients and trying to have fun with my kids I spent a good part of the day rushing. My husband is out of town for the week and won’t be home until late tonight. That leaves most of the organizing to me. Exhausted, I rushed out the door to my Thursday night yoga class. Within 5 minutes of the class I was at peace. I felt completely at ease and knew I was exactly where I needed to be. What would I do with out yoga in my life? It grounds me, slows me down and puts things into perspective. Driving home from class I was completely relaxed. (So relaxed I forgot to stop at CVS for the last minute items like sunscreen and bug spray) I began to wonder “what would the world be like if everyone practiced yoga everyday?” Why don’t more people do yoga? If only they understood the benefits……

If I didn’t have to teach a class tonight I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have taken the time to do yoga. I would have continued rushing; felt stressed and not finished most of what needed to be done. Instead I spent an hour and a half breathing and stretching and walked in the door with calm and perspective. The boys helped me make pumpkin bread, (from a box not homemade) but even so we’ll have a delicious treat for our trip. I’ve finished most of the stuff on the list and even have time to blog about it.

I’ve heard it, and said it over and over, the times in life when we don’t think there is time for yoga is when we need it the most. I experienced that with clarity tonight.

At the end of every class while students transition from Savasana I like to read a passage, proverb, quote or poem. Coincidently (or not) tonight I read the following

Hence, there is a time to go ahead and a time to stay behind.
There is a time to breathe easy and a time to breathe hard.
There is a time to be vigorous and a time to be gentle.
There is a time to gather and a time to release.
Can you see things as they are
And let them be all on their own?
~ Lao~Tzu

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kids and Yoga

Children intuitively get yoga. Most kids don’t multi task. Most kids are completely focused on whatever they are doing. Have you ever tried to interrupt a child when they are watching TV, building Lego’s or reading a book? They are completed and totally absorbed and present in everything they do.

Next time life feels too intense or you’ve forgotten the playful side of yoga, remember yoga can be as fun as child’s play! The following pictures are of my son, playing but in poses that distinctly resemble yoga! Namaste’

Bound Angle Pose or Reading a Book?

Tree Pose or Playing on the Computer?

Thread the Needle or Watching TV?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo ~ A Book Review

Otto Ringling is a typical middle aged American. He has two kids, is a senior editor at a Manhattan publishing house specializing in food books, vacations at the shore every year, and lives a comfortable life.

A trip from Jersey to his hometown in North Dakota with his free spirit sister is changed at the last minute as she tricks him into taking her guru Volya Rinpoche with him instead of her.

On the drive Otto complains throughout the trip and challenges the guru and questions his “Zen stuff” with a stubbornness and resistance. Otto does not believe his life needs to be fixed in any way. Rinpoche dressed in a maroon robe, quietly listens to Otto and answers his questions with questions. The unlikely pair falls into a travel routine of mutual respect, fun and learning.

The book was interesting, light and entertaining. For me, it falls into the category of fun summer read. If you have any interest in philosophy, yoga, Religion, Buddhism, travel or food this is book for you.

I won’t give away all of the fun, but a few of my favorite scenes include the drive through Pennsylvania and a Yoga Class.

The first night the pair stays in a historic Inn in Lititz Pa, a small town not far from my own hometown. The next morning they continue on to Hershey Pa. As a ‘local’ I appreciated the description of Pa, and recognized the landmarks. I loved imagining Rinpoche in chocolate world. The description of Chocolate World was perfect and allowed me to think of my own fun times there with family, but in the eyes of Rinpohce.

In a Midwestern town Otto’s sister arranged for Rinpohce to teach a yoga class. Begrudgingly Otto joins the class. Wearing chinos and a jersey Otto struggles through, pain, and embarrassment, and finally makes it to Savasana He is pleased and surprised to find a few breaths of no thought, and in the space of eight to ten seconds he found his old thought patterns suspended and he felt he understood something greater. I appreciated his mispronunciation of the Sanskrit words and his effort to master the physical practice.

This is a story about a physical and spiritual journey full of self discovery and reflection. I enjoyed the side trips visiting small town America through the eyes of a monk, and the fine cuisine sought after by Otto a die hard ‘foodie’ The story lined flowed seamlessly with the teachings of Rinpoche. I enjoyed watching Otto evolve and become open to some of Rinpoche’s teachings while he reflected on his own life.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Intro to Massage Class in Pottstown

High Street Yoga is located above and partnered with The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks in Pottstown PA This Sunday they are offering an Intro to Massage Therapy class for anyone considering Massage as a career. I attended the class and the school and LOVED it. The program and instructors are talented and dedicated to the profession. Instruction is individualized to meet the unique needs of each student. If you've ever thought about working as a massage therapist as a full or part time job, consider the class on Sunday July 11th. Below are all the details. Contact Angela to register 610-705-4401

LEARN ABOUT A CAREER IN MASSAGE THERAPY THIS SUNDAY! The Academy of Massage Therapy & Bodyworks is hosting an "Introduction to Massage Class" Have you thought about becoming a massage therapist? Do you have family and friends who have "the touch" but would like to get hands on experience from professionals? Join us on Sunday July 11th 9am -3 pm 141 East High St. Best Part? Free Knowledge, Free Lunch, and Free air-conditioning. Can’t beat it and it may change your life!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beat the Heat with Yoga

Does the intense heat and humidity leave you feeling lethargic and weak? Is your temper short? With the heat wave hitting east coast consider how yoga can help you stay cool!

The following yoga poses are designed to cool the body and quiet the mind.


Legs up the wall

Supported Shoulder Stand

Reclined Bound Angle Pose


Enhance the cooling effect of these poses by soaking a rag in water, diluted with grapefruit or mint essential oil. Cool the rag in the refrigerator for 20 minutes and place along the neck or on the forehead.

Cooling off with Shi-tali Pranayama The cooling breath

The practice of Shitali Pranayama, before sunrise, increases memory and intelligence. This Pranayama refreshes the body, mind, and purifies the blood. It removes excess heat in the body and cools the system, thus reducing anger, anxiety, and stress. This is best done in the heat of the summer.

As always, drink plenty of water and be aware of the body .If you feel uncomfortable, stop. Yoga should be steady and joyful and never forced. Enjoy the cooling practice and remember February when we had 40 inches of snow!!!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Yoga, running, making excuses and life

I’m not sure if this is a post about yoga or running or making excuses in life but since this is a blog about learning to use the philosophy and teachings of yoga in daily life I’ve decided to post it.

I have an avid yoga practice. I teach 5 times a week and practice on my own in my living room, or in the yurt. (I have a yurt for a massage therapy studio) I love the physical practice of yoga but always feel like there is something missing. That something is running. I’ve been a runner most of my life but lately my running has been very inconsistent. I have a million excuses about why I can’t find time to fit in running. Honestly, I haven’t run consistently since I lived in Houston and with the heat and humidity and a full time job as a special education teacher and three small children I still squeezed it in despite the road blocks. In NJ I had the excuse of the bears. We lived in rural NJ with a large bear population. The first time I ran and rounded the corner and saw one, it set me back. I bought an air horn and put a bell on my shoe, but still never recovered from the first encounter. Every squirrel, bird or rustle in a bush left me jumpy. We moved to PA 4 and ½ years ago and I picked up running whenever it fit into life. My husband travels A LOT for work and so that became my next excuse. My kids were young, and I couldn’t leave them for a run. I’d get into a consistent schedule and Paul would leave for 2-3 weeks, sometimes up to a month to Thailand, Korea, China or Saudi Arabia, again my excuse for not running consistently.

The kids are older and I can leave them for a ½ an hour to run, but I’ve come up with more excuses, the main one being my inconsistent work schedule. Today, I’m done making excuses and am ready to commit to running regularly and longer. I’m putting it out there on my blog for friends and strangers to read. I am committing to a regular running schedule. It makes such a difference in my life, both physically and emotionally. I love the sound of my feet on the pavement. I run by corn and soy bean farms. I see turkey vultures soar, they really are beautiful in flight, and occasionally spot a red tailed hawk.

How does this all fit into yoga? Yoga teaches about being kind to ourselves and the body. It’s about learning to acknowledge where you are in life with out judgment. Yoga teaches that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. It teaches us to meet life’s challenges with calm and confidence. Yoga teaches us about mindfulness and mindfulness like all things of merit can be accomplished one step at a time. I will approach my commitment to running one step at a time which reminds me of a quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way.”

I will enjoy each run, each effort and each step along the way.