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!

The Art of Relaxation — Yoga and Healing Touch w/ Emma Silverman, Sat. 11/8, 1:30-3:30pm

The Art of Relaxation: Yoga and Healing Touch

with author Emma Silverman
Saturday, Nov. 8, 1:30-3:30pm
$25 door / $20 by Nov. 5th

 

Emma Silverman Art of Relaxation Yoga Workshop The Yoga House Kingston NY

 

The Art of Relaxation workshop is a gentle, guided flow with massage, adjustments, and juicy yoga postures sure to stretch you into yoga heaven. Join author and yoga instructor Emma Silverman for this incredible opportunity to experience the healing powers of touch and to deepen your practice. This restorative class will guide you into bliss.

 

 

 

Emma Silverman is the author and founder of the blog The Emma Silverman Yoga Workshop The Yoga House Kingston NY Joy of Yoga. Her yoga journey began with dedicated Iyengar study and, after more than fifteen years of practice, she has also studied Bikram, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and Vinyasa Flow. After working at the Kripalu Institute for Yoga and Health (North America’s largest yoga retreat center), she is currently a yoga instructor at Cornell University, with thousands of students worldwide. Her previous book, THE JOY OF YOGA, will be published by Skyhorse Publishing (forthcoming August 5, 2014) and has sold German, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese translation rights. She resides in Ithaca, New York.

 

Register Below by Nov. 5th:


Art of Healing Workshop




Munchkin & Me with Mel Toth — Next session Sat., Dec. 6th, 12-1:00pm. Registration ends Thurs., Dec. 4th

MUNCHKIN & ME YOGA

For Kids 2-4 & Adult

the yoga house, munchkin & me, mel toth, kids yoga, yoga

First Saturday of Every Month, 12:00-1:00pm

Next session: Saturday, December 6th

Registration for the December class ends Thursday, December 4th.

Come explore yoga with your 2-4 year old, led by Mel Toth, an experienced childhood educator who comes prepared with yoga children’s books, coloring handouts and wonderful ideas to share yoga with your child. Each class is $18. Please preregister for the next single session by Thursday, Dec. 4th.

Space is limited.  Preregister today by purchasing your spot!


Reserve My Spot for Saturday…


Melanie Toth (Mel)

Mel’s yoga journey began in her living room over 13 years ago. An educator since 1998, Mel has taught 4th grade, co-authored a strategy book for teachers and served as a tutor and Director of Education for several NY learning centers. From her extensive background in education, Mel brings a solid understanding of how each student interprets information differently and may apply those misinterpretations to his or her body. As such, she strives to make her instruction clear and accessible for students of all levels of experience. Mel’s classes focus on the development of a solid foundation through the use of props, demonstration, description, and encouragement, while exploring basic principles of alignment, balance and relaxation. By encouraging her students to respect their physical limitations while exploring what is possible, Mel aims to help each individual learn how to serve the unique needs of their body. She is forever grateful to her first yoga teacher, Jill Gnassi, whose expert Iyengar instruction taught her how attending to small details could make a huge difference in her life, both on and off her mat.

Evening Meditation with Sharon Rosen — Every 3rd Friday, 7-8:00pm. Next Session Nov. 21st

Evening Meditation

7:00-8:00pm, third Fridays

Our next meditation event is on November 21st, 2014.

Drop-in fee is $13 (or use your membership card).

Leave the week behind and enter your weekend in peace. Join us for this month’s class, where the focus will be shamatha (calm abiding) and metta (loving-kindness) meditation. Deepen your ability to be present, compassionate and loving towards yourself and with others. Our time together includes instruction, inspiration and practice. Developing mindful awareness through meditation allows us to “bloom like the lotus, at home in the muddy water.”

meditation
Join us every third Friday for an hour-long guided meditation led by teacher and author Sharon Rosen. No experience necessary. All levels welcome.

According to Sharon, “Meditation helps us to become more present to life. Through the practices, we develop feelings of unconditional friendliness towards ourselves and others. Each month we will explore different aspects of meditation, including mindfulness, lovingkindness, walking meditation and guided body scans. You will leave these sessions inspired, refreshed and with solid tools that you can weave into your everyday life. Please join us and begin or deepen your own meditation journey.”

Preregistration is NOT necessary, but feel free to reserve your spot.


Reserve My Spot for Evening Meditation


sharon rosen, meditationSharon Rosen

(Read more at her website, Heart of Self Care)

Life is filled with bright, shiny objects that distract us, knock us off track, and keep us from knowing our truest needs. They pull us away from our core values and innate wisdom.

How do we figure out what really works for us?

I believe that we all have the ability to find those answers, even if we can’t always access that wisdom or follow through on it. It has to do with slowing down and listening deeply, two things that are not given much respect in this world of information overload. High speed, next generation wireless networks keep us always plugged in out there but not in here where it helps the most.

The essence of what I teach and embody in my work comes from learning to listen deeply to myself. It’s about paying mindful attention to my body and soul to figure out what works for me. I’ve learned how to give myself what I need to truly flourish and feel strong and vibrant. I feel so grateful to be able to share this learning with you.