GateWay Taiji, Qigong & Yoga is a center for the practice of these beautiful and healthful energy arts. Please visit www.gatewaytaiji.com for complete information.
Two recently re-published articles by Harvard Medical School tout the benefits of yoga, mindfulness, meditation and taiji for controlling pain and improving both physical and mental health. Check them out – and please join us at GateWay, where we pursue these practices for enjoyment and personal growth – as well as good health.
Chakra Chanting Circle
Sundays, April 23 and May 21; 5:30-6:15pm
Chanting helps us quiet the chatter of our minds and find a calm clear space within.
The chakras are energy centers in the body. The bija mantra – Sanskrit syllables- are particularly resonant in each area and help to balance the body and mind. During the circle, we will explore the bija mantra and other simple chants with song and silence in community. All are welcome and there is no fee for this event. Voluntary donations will benefit HAVEN. No musical experience or yoga background is needed. Wear comfortable attire.
As part of GateWay’s 2017 Chinese New Year Celebration (The Year of the Rooster!), we’re launching the GateWay Prayer Flag Project to spread our community’s spirit of peace and compassion. Traditional Tibetan prayer flags do not carry prayers to gods; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion for the benefit of all. Everyone who attends the GateWay Chinese New Year celebration on January 28 will be invited to draw, write or sew their wish or prayer for 2017 on a fabric 5” x 7” square. After the celebration, the Prayer Flag Project will continue at GateWay throughout Chinese New Year, which runs through February 4, 2017. We invite you to contribute to the flag! Create your own 5″ x 7″ panel with waterproof materials – and then bring it in to the studio to be hung. GateWay students: One of the dressing rooms will have supplies for creating your panel before or after class. After Chinese New Year, the flag will “go on tour” to other community organizations to be expanded and displayed. If you’re reading this post after the end of Chinese New Year, you can still participate; just get in touch with Rebecca at email@example.com
and you know I can see summertime slipping on away.
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red,
but the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed.
So I’ll be king and you’ll be queen, our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green.
Won’t you lie down here right now in this September grass?
Won’t you lie down with me now, September grass.
In July I went to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and studied with Carol Krucoff and Kimberly Carson in their course, ‘Yoga for Seniors Teacher Training’. It was a transformative experience! Carol and Kimberly are pioneers in the field of yoga for seniors – the benefits, the cautions, the poses – and shared humbly and fully all that they know. Along with 35 other people from all over the country, we probed the aging process through the lens of prevention, precautions, benefits and quality of life as many of us begin to experience osteoporosis, COPD, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, and more. Some of us experiencing the challenges of more than one condition. We learned how a senior-centered gentle yoga class can be taught safely to assist in this journey along the scale of wellness, and yet be invigorating! Smile, breathe, move….and do it in community!
What I learned in just 6 days from Carol and Kimberly will continue to percolate in my brain and be incorporated into my classes for a long time. I am committed to continuing . Here is one tidbit: Strive to take each joint in your body through its complete range of motion every day.
I share this recent article from the Charlotte Observer which states beautifully the benefits of yoga as we mature, including spot on quotes from Carol Krucoff.
- Tuesday and Friday, 1-2pm @ Gateway Taiji, Qigong and Yoga and/or
- Wednesday 10-11 at the Portsmouth Senior Center (Community Campus).
The first Restorative Yoga Class of the Fall will be Friday, September 18 from 6-8 at Gateway. More details to follow.
And speaking of following, please ‘like’ the Gateway page on Facebook – Gateway Taiji, Qigong and Yoga. Look for the announcement of the upcoming Fall schedule of all Gateway classes ….coming very soon!
New Class begins Monday, January 5 from 5 – 6 p.m. with Terry Farish
A classical yoga class for students to cultivate balance, strength, and states of mind that support their lives and work.
New Class begins Wednesday, January 7 from 6 – 7:15pm with Slavica Popov Meinhold.
A classical yoga class designed to energize and recharge your body. The focus of the class is on improving your flexibility and strength, while allowing your mind to relax and become more quiet.
Here’s a video from the master, Tich Nhat Hanh. I just took 15 minutes to do these movements with him on a busy work morning and I think my mood is less grumbly. I’m breathing more deeply. So here it is for you in case it could help you.
Silence is essential. Silence is elusive.
I recently returned from a four day silent retreat called Simplicity and Silence: a Yoga and Meditation Retreat at the Rolling Meadows Retreat Center in Brooks, Maine led by the amazing teachers of ShivaShakti Yoga School in Camden, Maine – Aiyana and Krishna.
To be silent for so long felt like a challenge but I’m an introvert, so could think of nothing better than not ‘having’ to talk to people, to free noiseless time, to yoga, to meditation and to solitude. And the retreat was all that and so much more. But contemplate for a moment the lack of any electronics, books, music, caffeine, meat, sugar and communication. For sixty hours eleven of us lived in community and shared silence, ie communal meals, meditation and yoga classes several times a day, passing each other in the house and on the trails but not talking, and little facial communication. A remarkable experience and life changing.
This retreat gave me permission to take care of myself. Free of guilt; free of judgment; free of second thoughts; free of cyclical thinking. In this totally accepting community, I learned to listen to me, my soul, my essence. Mostly I liked it. There were moments of anger, rebellion and fear, and yes, even of loneliness but they passed. And then there were the amazing nights of listening to a whippoorwill outside my window, feeling like he was calling just to me. Listening to the sounds of cooking; smelling food cooking. Smelling lavender and sea roses. Watching the birds at the feeder. Watching the curtains near my bed blow with the wind. In this peace the brain eventually relaxes and lets go. Phew, lets go….
Taking care of yourself is satisfying work. This retreat was a gift in so many ways. Asking each moment – what do I need. Often it was nothing. Nothing. Just to be. And then to be comfortable with that answer. Eat when you are hungry; sleep when you are tired; walk when you need fresh air. The primal needs of the body. Can it really be that simple? For these four days it was.
Back in the world, I seek silence in the pauses. The moment between waking and getting up, the moment at a stop light, the walk from the car to the grocery store, while brushing my teeth, stirring the oatmeal. Breathe deeply in these pauses and reset. It’s OK to turn your back on the world sometimes and turn inward.
I often tell yogis that I can’t tell where the tender places are in each person in the room who has gathered to practice yoga. I talk about each person finding a place in a yoga pose in which they can breathe deeply into the rib cage. That’s a measure of how deep to be into a pose and to know to back off if the breath is shallow. And be safe. More specifically, I’ve been researching ways to prevent injury to knees while practicing yoga. Here are some tips around which there seems to be consensus among current professionals in sports and exercise science and yoga teachers. Micro-bending of the knees can help us, and more:
- Fundamentally, honor the natural alignment of the spine.
- Micro-bend the knees in any straight legged pose.
- In Warrior I, the knee and toes of the back leg face the same direction so as not to twist the knee.
- In Warrior II, notice that the bent knee extends only so far that it is in line with the ankle. No further.
- In Triangle, engage the thigh muscles and quads of the extending leg and lift the knee cap toward the thigh. With the muscles engaged, the knee is stabilized. Bring a micro-bend into the knee.
- Bring a micro-bend of the knees into forward folds, whether standing or sitting.
- In Pigeon, avoid a twist of the knee. Instead of aligning the front chin parallel to the front of the mat, tuck the heel in toward the opposite hip. Keep the hips level.
For more information, here’s an article by Sally Parkes , a practitioner in sports and exercise science: http://www.yoga-abode.com/practice/yoga_for_your_knees
Sometimes our journey may seem complicated or confusing, often without reason. Yet consider the zigzag placement of stepping-stones across a pond in a Japanese garden, which fable says thwarts evil spirits who can only follow a straight line. With awareness, we can, however, traverse the twists and turns of the stones, reminding us to look at life from different perspectives and to gain insight from each one. Such mindfulness does not come easily; the process requires methodical thoughtfulness. Rather than allowing ourselves to be annoyed by life’s changes in direction, we can celebrate the joy offered by learning to effortlessly open our hearts to full participation in the present moment.
Photograph by Allan Mandell; Words by Maggie Oster
‘Gardens of the Spirit’ 2014 calendar