Posts tagged ‘Upper Valley Yoga’

beginning, again

It is such fun to teach the Intro to Yoga class at Upper Valley Yoga.

Each session I try to have a new framework for myself to teach around, a new way to organize myself.  I’ve used all kinds of structure to help me: the koshas, the eight limbs of yoga, a breakdown of the yamas and niyamas.  This time, I decided to use a few concepts behind the yoga, picking simplicity as the theme for our first day.

Simple doesn’t come easy to me.  I have a tendency to talk a lot, and get excited about the details, which can be fun and helpful, and overwhelming.  But if my intro students are doing something that’s new to them, and probably hard for them (coming to yoga class for the first time), then I can push myself into unfamiliar territory, too.

So, I headed into class with my teaching notebook open to the intro week one page, with only a few reminders about simplicity, the simplest of cues for a few postures, and a lot of blank space.  A visual reminder to myself: keep it simple; leave lots of space.

We started seated, practicing sitting up tall, reaching the hands out in front and overhead while leaving a lot of space for the neck and the shoulders.  Then we kept both sides of the body long as we arced to one side and the other.  Then we twisted, keeping the seat on the floor as we revolved the belly, chest and head in one direction, and the other.  Finally, we folded forward, staying long and open and keeping ourselves from folding in half at the ribcage or shoulders.

We moved to standing and did all the same things, this time with our feet underneath us.  We moved into a couple of standing poses: Warrior two (take your feet wide, bend your right knee as deeply as you can); Tree (stand and balance on two feet, then pick up your left put, place it on your right leg wherever you can).

We moved slowly.  I left big spaces without words.  I looked at my blank page.  Held my tongue.  Breathed.

It was hard work for everyone.  Yoga is not easy.  Simple is not easy.

I’ll keep you posted on the themes we use each week and how it goes.

Meanwhile, perhaps try simplicity in some aspect of your own day, whether in your practice, your work, or wherever you think it may be helpful, and if you have a chance, post here to let me know how it goes.

January 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm 3 comments


Thanks to everyone who participated in the community class at Upper Valley Yoga last Sunday.  The occasion was my fortieth birthday, but that was just an excuse to gather and celebrate!

Michele George led a class that embodied so beautifully the themes she was teaching.  Part of the practice was a standard solo practice, with sun salutations, standing poses, balancing poses.  In this part of the practice, we embodied the qualities of steadfastness, directness, the firey passion required to remain dedicated to our practice, and in our everyday lives, true to our own heart.

Part of the practice was partner, trio work, and even whole group work on simple stretches, backbends, balances and handstands.  These embodied the quality of lila, the Sanskrit word for play.  We were reminded that part of what life requires of us is that sense of play, that sense of anything-can-happen kind of fun.

And of course, we saw that sometimes the help of our friends gets us further than we ever thought possible.

Thirty-five of us wedged ourselves into the studio at Upper Valley Yoga, and though the class was offered free of charge, we did collect over $200 for the UVY Karma Fund, a scholarship fund set up to help pay for classes for those who cannot afford them.

Though I think I’ll stick to having just one birthday a year, I hope we’ll gather again before next year to celebrate the community we all help to create.

Happy birthday to you, whichever day of this year it is (or was).  May all the desires of your heart come true, and may you hold the qualities of fire and fun fast within your heart!

September 23, 2010 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Keeping it simple

One day earlier this week, for no obvious reason, our power was out when we woke up.  No water for a shower, no way to heat the water for tea.  No checking email, no flicking on the radio.

It was lovely, I must say.

I straightened up the house, unloaded the dishwasher, and then wondered where my husband was.

“What are you doing back here?”  I found him in the back yard, with the dog.

“Just looking at things.”

We sat outside, the three of us, watching the men in the basket at the end of the long arm of the power company truck, fixing whatever was keeping our appliances from humming.  We watched the birds at the feeder, and we watched the dog, watching the red squirrels.

Half an hour later, the power back on, I was checking my email and drinking my tea.

The dog, who is onto something, stayed in the backyard, squirrel watching.

On Saturday, I took a lovely class (offered by Leslie at Upper Valley Yoga) and noticed the simple language she used to get us into some complex poses (or near them, at least).  Without the clutter of a lot of description (but plenty of clear direction), I was able to follow her instructions and still have my own experience of the yoga practice.

I realized that the space she left allowed me to connect to myself.  And that connection to myself allows me to connect to another.

These connections may happen in the most simple ways–the simple kindness of meeting another’s eye when we say hello in the grocery store.  The simple act of listening to our loved ones at the end of a long day.

This is a good reminder for me.  Simple isn’t my first nature, and everyday life doesn’t generally encourage me in that direction.

Thank goodness for the occasional power outage, and red squirrel watching with the dog.

July 19, 2010 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

Let’s do the twist

Or rather, let’s do the revolve.

This week as I was planning a class, I realized that I had been using the word “twist” for the Sanskrit “parivrtta.”   So “parivrtta trikonasana” had become, in my translation, twisted triangle.

The translation of parivrtta is actually “revolved” (or even, in one online dictionary, reborn!).

Ah, words.

When we revolve something, including our bodies, we may be looking at a different face of something than we are used to, but we can still recognize the figure.  I imagine if I could tilt my house, or this table I’m sitting at right now, at a strange angle–I would still recognize it as my home, and my dining room.   The form is what it is, simply revolved.

When we twist something, we’ve by definition changed its form.  We twist something and make that form hard to recognize, or even unrecognizable.  If I twist the table, I may only recognize four legs, not know if it’s a table, or a desk, or a chair.  My husband says–when you say twist, I think of twist tie, and I don’t want to look like a twist tie.

If you join me in my classes this week at Upper Valley Yoga more than likely you will be invited to revolve.  Wherever you practice–at home with the dog or cat, in class with your friends or teacher–give revolving a try.

Here’s the trick I use to help me remember–imagine you want someone to be able to read words or an image you have on your torso–maybe you want to show off your favorite new uppup tank.  By keeping the side body long, and moving from your belly, you can keep your torso revolving, instead of twisting.  So the message on your torso, if looked at from the right face, is recognizable.

So, side body long, let your breath lead, and let’s do the…revolve!

July 12, 2010 at 9:12 pm 2 comments


A hot air balloon just landed down the street from us.  In the little neighborhood where we live, hot air balloon sightings are not uncommon–to the chagrin of Olive, a black standard poodle from these parts, who has great anxiety about only two things: bugs and hot air balloons.

Olive, on the watch for hot air balloons

There is a distinctive sound that a hot air balloon makes, when they flare the gas to keep it floating.  If you’ve heard a blowtorch, it’s a bit like that, many times over. Olive hears that sound and she tucks her tail and heads under the table.  The rest of us run outside, faces tilted to the sky.

Last month this same hot air balloon floated past the window of the yoga studio where I teach  It was a special workshop on the elements: we connected to earth through the foundation of our feet, water through opening the hips.  We were working on fire with hand balances when the balloon floated past.  The ferocity of fire and the ease of air–how inspiring!  We all paused to watch it land in a teeny pocket park about a block away.  As it landed, it disappeared behind the buildings and trees, until we could just see the top of it, spinning.  By the time we finished practice, there was no sign of it left.

We’ll be at SolarFest in Tinmouth, selling our yoga and kidswear, and enjoying the festivities, July 16–18th.  There will be a lot of information on solar energy and other ways to live sustainably (worm composting, veggie fuels, backyard chicken raising), workshops for kids and adults, yoga, dancing–and it’s all powered by a huge solar array!  Please come to the festival and stop in to see us.

And check back in for more thoughts on life, yoga, dogs.

With thanks, from your friends at uppup.

June 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

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