New Classes Added — Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays

  • Leigha now teaches the Mon/Wed House Flow classes, from 9:00-10:30am.
  • Amy Reed will begin teaching an Early Flow class on Wednesdays from 7:00-8:00am, beginning 12/10.
  • Jacqui has added a House Flow on Monday evenings, from 7:00-8:00pm.
  • We have a new class on Saturday mornings called Flying Flow, a challenging Vinyasa class that will incorporate inversions, arm balances, and yoga philosophy-based intention setting. Taught by Leigha, 7:30-9:00am.

 

December Focus of the Month — Natarajasana

King Dancer, Natarajasana PoseLast week we received a little taste of winter—a snowstorm that knocked us off balance as we prepared for Thanksgiving. As we move into the final month of the year, we give Nataraj, Lord of the Dance, the spotlight and unpack the rich imagery of his story, which offers us a reminder to relish rather than lament winter’s destructive power.

In Hindu mythology Nataraj is a four-armed, wild-haired dancer who balances atop a dwarf demon while he performs a dance said to destroy humankind’s ignorance. Whereas we mere mortals fear nature’s cycles – of birth, death, and rebirth – Nataraj, an incarnation of Shiva, happily rides these rhythms, benevolently assisting in the destruction of the universe so that new life can emerge. In Nataraj’s eyes, winter is no time to mourn or to hibernate, it’s a time to celebrate as we prepare for the rebirth of springtime. May we all be dancers this season!

 

Nataraj, King Dancer, Focus of the MonthFearlessness and Liberation

The image of Nataraj is an iconic one. The svelte and muscular dancer holds a drum in one hand and fire in another, all while holding hand mudras (seals) that represent fearlessness and liberation. He is encircled in a ring of fire and wears a serpent around his waist. He stands atop the demon Apasmara and maintains, always, a peaceful countenance.

By keeping a firm foot on Apasmara the dwarf demon, Nataraj protects humankind from at least two layers of ignorance. Take what you want from the mythology, of course, but the two forms of ignorance are:

  • The illusion that we are separate from divinity.
  • The illusion that the trials of daily life are all that matter.

 

Nataraj_Apasmara

Apasmara the demon is held underfoot by Nataraj to protect humankind from ignorance.

Apasmara would have us get caught up in the trivial ups and downs of our daily interactions. He would like us to believe that we are our worry, or we are our regrets, our anxiety, our hopelessness, our sadness, or our excitability, and he loves when these fear-based emotions take us over because they cloud our sense of self and obscure our relationship to deepest consciousness.

Winter is a natural time to sink into contraction and hibernation, but instead of allowing its fallowness to dampen our spirits, the image of Nataraj encourages us to remember that it’s an essential part of the birth-death-rebirth process, one measure among many in the song of life.

The Lord of the Dance reminds us not to get swept up in our own mundane dramas and instead choose liberation from fear-binding thoughts. Only by destroying fear can we be truly free. And how will we know when we are free? That’s easy. We will be dancing.

 

The Pose: Natarajasana

Natarajasana, King DancerKing Dancer pose is a one-footed balance and back bend all at once. In it, the practitioner grabs one foot or ankle and reaches the other arm forward. There are as many variations of the pose as there are yogis, but it is always a balance, and it is always a heart opener. It also opens the shoulders, stretches the hip flexors, and tones the back body.

To explore the pose’s significance, you might try it balanced upon a block which can symbolize the demon underfoot who if freed would see to it that we remain shackled to our own little turbulences. Stand on the block to symbolically break free of the patterns that keep you bound to fear.

 

NatarajasanaThe pose itself can strike fear, as many balance poses do (especially when we try them on a block). If it seems elusive, try it at a wall to cancel out any sense of instability. When you do eventually feel stable in the pose, draw your heart forward, tilt it up, and notice the pose’s power to liberate your spirit.

Feel lifted and light, peaceful and celebratory. Let nature’s rhythms course through you without resistance. Keep the beat with your breath and give yourself over to the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Sock Drive — Receive $5 Off of Your Class Card Purchase this Nov & Dec when you donate socks and other necessities

Celebrate seva, the art of giving, this season by participating in our

Holiday Sock Drive

Holiday Sock Drive to Benefit the Children's Program of the Family Inn

Receive $5 off your class card purchase when you bring in one of the following items

for The Family Inn of Family of Woodstock.

  • Conair round brushes
  • Wide toothed combs
  • Socks & underwear (new, please. For infant, toddler, children, and teens)
  • Baby equipment (strollers, crib sheets, bouncy chairs, baby swing, etc.)
  • Baby bottles (specific request for tommee tippee bottles)
  • Humidifiers
  • Baby crib sheets
  • Twin sheets & pillows
  • Robes & slippers (for toddlers & kids)

 

November Focus of the Month — Sukha

autumn foliageSukha

We’ve been blessed with an extended, mild and colorful fall replete with shin-high sidewalk piles of crackling gold and burnt sienna. And have you seen the green underbellies of the leaves this year? It’s as though they’re hanging on for dear life as reluctant as we are to bid a farewell to sun and warmth. It’s undeniable though. We may be having a few mercifully temperate days, but November is really here and with it come the colder, darker skies. Unless you’re a winter bird, you’re probably beginning to feel the tenseness of the season. We clench up this time of year, we draw inward, we resist, protest, get sad, anticipate and even dread. If these inclinations sound familiar to you, please join us in a great metaphorical counterpose this November, the cultivation of a profound ease of being.

This month we focus on sukha, a Sanskrit word meaning joy, ease, pleasure, softness, gentleness, or bliss. Often it gets paired with its counterpart sthira, which means steadiness and firmness, the idea being that yogis – whether they’re executing a pose, sitting for meditation or encountering daily life – are adept at balancing these two qualities. Too much force and your practice is fraught with rigidity. Too little firmness and you’re all stretch but no strength. The texts go so far as to say, if you don’t have both you’re not doing yoga.

You might know the feeling. Let’s say you’re executing a new and challenging pose. You get in, you’re doing it! Then, just as soon, you collapse onto the floor gasping for breath realizing you’d been holding it in all along. There is reason to feel good about the accomplishment, no doubt, but it’ll take a dozen or more times before you experience the lift and lightness that are possible in yoga asana.

You might hear us saying in class, “Find a comfortable edge.” This is a nod toward the sthira/sukha balance. Yoga does require that you push beyond your boundaries, but there should be a sense of yielding in your push, a softness, a patience, a kindness, and a sensitivity as you progress in your practice. Yoga is not meant to be painful or forceful, it’s meant to enhance joy, to put a lightness in your step and a lift in your heart. Anything else is, as they say, calisthenics. If you’re keeping sukha in mind, you still attempt those elusive poses, but you keep a careful eye on your breath, and you allow the process to be sweetly slow. You’ll get there, you’ll get there, there’s no rush, and you’ll be less likely to get injured along the way.

Leslie Kaminoff, author of “Yoga Anatomy,” describes sukha at the cellular level using the concepts of containment and permeability. A cell’s outer layer, he points out, must be firm enough to remain a cohesive entity but permeable enough to allow nutrients in and waste out. It’s quite a feat, isn’t it? If either of these qualities is missing, existence as we know it falls apart. So too in our human relations. We must have resolve and stability if we are to survive, but if we are to flourish we must have adaptability too. Some situations call for a certain severity, but we cannot forget to also be soft lest we make ourselves (and everyone around us) miserable.

Here’s something you can try. Next time you take a yoga class, experiment with creating more sukha than sthira in the practice. Slow down, back off, ease up. Drink in your breath like it’s a sweet, silken nectar. If the teacher invites you to try something that’s going to pull you too far out of your comfort zone be bold enough to decline. Don’t go deep unless it feels amazing to go deep. In the pinnacle moment of your poses, allow your heart to swell beyond its former capacity. In each moment that you can, actively shed your resentments and criticisms toward self and others. Let your chest burst wide open with compassion and love. This is sukha… and we need more of it!

Sukha is joy, pleasure, softness, easeIt’s characteristic of the society in which we were reared that we sometimes approach our yoga practice with a sense of ambition or competition. Deep down, of course, we know that that kind of approach pulls us away from the more metaphysical side of the practice, the side that reminds us we are each just one small part of a bigger whole. Sustaining awareness of our interconnection is what the sages call reaching enlightenment. In a state of enlightenment we cannot help but experience feelings of belonging, warmth, profound gratitude, joy, and altruism, the many shades of sukha. It’s okay that we’re always getting pulled back down to earth because the door to bliss is always there and it’s always wide open, if we can only remember to look for it.

 

 

 

Community Class Gathering & Info Session — Nov. 9th, 6:15pm

Creating a Yogic Community: Giving In & Giving Back

A Gathering & Informational Chat

with Fran Benton, Supervisor of the Children’s Program of Family Inn

Hosted by Amy Reed

Sunday, November 9th, 6:15pm

Refreshments will be served. 

Fran will join us immediately following the Community class to provide information about the organization and a thoughtful retrospective on how your weekly donations have impacted her children and families in our community.

Attend both the class and gathering, or skip the class and just mellow out afterwards with some amazing Kingstonites as we get to know Fran and the wonderful work she does.

Amy Reed, The Yoga House, Teacher, Yoga, Kingston, NYThe Community Class

Held each Sunday from 5:00-6:15pm invites you to connect more deeply to selfless service (Seva) and the art of giving. Proceeds from each class benefit The Family Inn Program of Family of Woodstock Inc., a United Way Agency. Teacher Amy Reed encourages students to tap into the root of the yogic philosophy of kindness in thought and deed. It is remarkable what doing for others does for the soul!