Is there a Chicken Pose?
Come on over to Hayloft Yoga at Double S Quarter Horses in Bow to find out!
Every Tuesday from 6-7pm. Sure to be the most unique soundtrack in any yoga class you’ll encounter!
Is there a Chicken Pose?
Come on over to Hayloft Yoga at Double S Quarter Horses in Bow to find out!
Every Tuesday from 6-7pm. Sure to be the most unique soundtrack in any yoga class you’ll encounter!
Tonight was our first Fall-feeling Hayloft Yoga class of 2013, and the crisp air brought some friendly new faces! I was struck by what a sweet community of horse- and yoga-lovers I am so fortunate to be a part of.
Horses and cows grazed outside in the field to the backdrop of the Olympics, and the sunset was lovely as usual. The weather has changed and is a bit more brisk, but nothing some conscious breathing and active poses can’t warm us through. I noticed, after having been out of state for a month, the incredible impact the horses have on our practice of yoga. In the hayloft, we can gaze down into their stalls and watch them (and they often watch us!). We are enveloped in the sweet smell of hay, the sounds of them breathing, chewing, the taste of the dusty air. Most importantly for me, horses help us to be present, in the moment, in our bodies. Their way of being in the world–whether standing in the pasture or ridden under saddle–shines a mirror to our deepest selves and helps us to access that depth in ways we wouldn’t otherwise know how to. Simply being in the presence of a horse is healing, calming. They patiently, persistently show us how to be our best selves. It is an honor and privilege to share a space with these equines, the true yogis!
Tonight’s theme was compassion, and we began class in a restorative pose while I shared a quote from Jack Kornfield:
“True compassion arises from a healthy sense of self, from an awareness of who we are that honors our own capacities and fears, our own feelings and integrity, along with those of others.”
This practice of having compassion toward ourselves is one of great import in yoga and in our lives. On the mat in asana (posture) practice, we can approach each breath, each movement, with a sweetness in our heart toward our body, its capabilities and its limitations. With this intention of loving-kindness, we find that we avoid injury and can go deeper into our practice, learning more and more about our physical, energetic and spiritual bodies. As Kornfield says, before we can be of service to others, we must first gain a healthy sense of Self. Yoga is a system that offers us tools to develop an awareness of who we are, with honesty and patience, allowing us to purify our body/mind with continued practice. Only then, from a space of clarity and self-awareness, can we truly serve others.
As we refine this compassion practice on the mat, it begins to seep into our lives. We can consider: what if we awoke each morning brimming with a joyful sense of self-awareness? What if we lived every moment of the day with a sense of compassion toward our selves? What if we cultivated unconditional self love, so that no matter what, our hearts stayed open? What might our day look like?
The horses we love never criticize themselves for having a lameness, or being overweight, or aging, or feeling pain. Perhaps that is one of the gifts they can offer us: a reflection of how to stay present, how to be compassionate, without judgement or harshness. With honesty, truthfulness, nonattachment, these equines offer us an approach to living.
I encourage you, as you move through your days, to check in with yourself and see that you are approaching your thoughts, your actions, with compassion. With acceptance. With a genuine sense of self love. You may notice that honing in on this practice enables you to become more compassionate toward others.
I would love to hear about your experience.
ॐ The highest potential within me honors the highest potential within you: Namaste. ॐ
SUNDAY JULY 7th
ALL LEVELS HORSEBACK YOGA WORKSHOP
12 noon ~ 3 pm
$40 includes arena use fee ~ Free to “audit” (participate/observe on foot)
Big Lake Stables is located at 16550 State Route 9, Mount Vernon, WA
Here are the best ways you can prepare:
The workshop will flow somewhat like this:
I look forward to practicing yoga with each of you!
Please contact me using the form below:
Here’s a little news from the hayloft: the owl hutches are full … of baby owls! Come on out and peek up to see if you might catch a glimpse!
One of the most tangible benefits of yoga in such a magnificent space is that practicing in the barn offers us the opportunity to sofetn, nurture, and strentghen all of our sense organs:
We soften the gaze out toward Blanchard Mountain to give the eyes a break from close-up computer screens, or even simply from being indoors all day, where the most distant ocular point is the wall or the window. Some of the yoga teachings offer “eye yoga,” exercises for the eyes that can actually improve vision. There are numerous papers & articles documenting that time outdoors also improves vision, attributed by some to the ultraviolet light, or that the eye muscles get the opportunity to focus on shapes, forms, and colors at a wide variety of distances. In yoga, the dristi is a single point of focus. It is most often mentioned in balancing poses (helping us to maintain balance through a point of focus through which we gaze softly). Keeping a dristi, we see that our mind calms and we can find inner stillness.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence … we need silence to be able to touch souls.
HEARING : EARS
Our busy lives are filled with so much noise that we tend to shut off from the barage of sensory input in an attempt at self-preservation. This legitimate form of pollution has wide-ranging adverse health, social, and economic effects. Cars, jets, TV, radio … it is more important than ever that we take time to give our hearing a break from the barage. Yoga in the hayloft gives us a beautiful opportunity to listen, really listen, without being accosted with discordant sound that takes us away from our curious awareness and into a defensive state. In a relaxation pose, we can close the eyes and soften the ear canals toward the throat, unhinging the jaw, and sinking into the support of a blanket. We tune to the soothing sounds of the horses stirring, eating, shifting their weight in stalls below, the sounds of the songbirds inside and outside the barn, and the voices of frogs, cows, and hawks occasionally greet us. All of these create a gentle symphony to soothe our sense of hearing, our ability to hear. This helps us to shift our listening inward and give our inner world our full attention. We can often be surprised at what we can learn from this simple, gentle exercise of listening in. It is one of the most wholesome and healthy practices we can engage in.
Silence is more musical than any song.
TOUCH : SKIN
The yoga postures give us the opportunity to bring our awareness to the skin, which we often take for granted.
It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.
In the hayloft, we notice the temperature of the air on our skin, we feel our bodies in contact with the floor, and we honor this organ of skin which literally holds our body into one form. As awareness spreads across the skin, we can gain a sense of gratitude and appreciation for being in this body, alive, moving, breathing, living. We associate the hands with touch, but we can also explore the sensations of the skin of the rest of the body, stretching in each pose, expanding: the sense of breath on the upper lip, the sense of softening the wrinkles in the face, the sense of spreading the skin of the feet to find a strong yet supple standing posture. What a glorious organ, the skin!
I look forward to more practice in the hayloft!
11:00 am –6:00 pm
Room 309 in the Co-op Building downtown Mount Vernon
Yoga instructors from across the Valley offer an entire day of free classes in the upstairs of the Co-op. Come up to the third floor,kick off your shoes and explore a variety of yoga styles in celebration of all that is offered in the Valley. Each class starts on the hour every hour beginning at 11 am. Classes are suitable for all levels (including beginners!). Bring your own mat if you have one–some supplies will be provided. Free &Open to the public. Preregistration not required.
11:00-11:45 am ~ Chara Stuart
Bikram Yoga for Beginners
12:00-12:45 pm ~ Kathleen Grimbly
Healing Musculoskeletal Pain with Yoga Therapy
1:00-1:45 pm ~ Cindi Running
2:00-2:45 pm ~ Jessie Tierney
Yoga for Equine Enthusiasts
3:00-3:45 pm ~ Kate Bowers
Yoga for the Brain
4:00-4:45 pm ~ Jen McFraland
Finding the Grace Within
CLASS DESCRIPTIONS &TEACHER BIOS
11:00-11:45 am Chara Stuart ~ Bikram Yoga for Beginners
Often known as “Hot Yoga,” Bikram Yoga instructs students in 26 poses and two breathing exercises for health and well-being. Typically performed in a heated studio,we will adapt for this introductory Co-op class by explaining the benefits of the heat,while practicing an abbreviated sequence of poses. During our practice,the health benefits of each pose will also be described.
At Bikram Yoga Mount Vernon,our community of students of all ages and health conditions,practice a sequence of beginning poses in a heated room. These poses are designed to promote health and well-being through systematic contraction and relaxing of muscles with compression and extension of internal systems. The sequence,with the added benefit of heat,strengthens the body by improving balance and flexibility;and,irrigates and bathes the body’s internal organs and systems with blood flow,which helps to reduce inflammation and stress. This combination facilitates the delivery of oxygen and nutrition throughout the body and the removal metabolic waste. Simultaneously, students cultivate a focused mind, infusing their body with awareness and developing the ability to be more present in their lives. Weight loss is one of many common side benefits of practicing Bikram Yoga. With a steady practice you will discover the benefits this form of Yoga holds for you.
Hot Yoga Matters at Bikram Yoga Mount Vernon is located in the loft of the historic telephone building,506 south second street,accessible at the east entrance on third street,just blocks from the Skagit Valley Coop.
12:00-12:45 pm Kathleen Grimbly ~ Healing Musculoskeletal Pain with Yoga Therapy
Learn to unite body-mind-spirit to heal the causes of pain non-medically. Whether your pain is chronic or acute,learn a practice that both provides immediate relief and supports restoration of the body’s design function. If yoga classes or physical therapy don’t work for you,if you’ve had joint replacement,if you’re skeptical or analytical…come and experience. Dress in comfortable clothes,bring a blanket or mat and two pillows. The only pre-requisites are the desire to heal your pain and/or posture problems and taking responsibility for your own health.
Kathleen Grimbly,(BA in Education) is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher since 1995.
After four automobile accidents,chronic pain,fatigue,fibromyalgia and a permanent partial disability,she studied at Rocky Mt. Institute for Yoga &Ayurveda and learned the Egoscue method to restore her health. Now she teaches hiking,kayaking,cross country skiing and yoga which balances the body to prevent injury and pain.
1:00-1:45 pm Cyndi Running ~ Viniyoga:Therapeutic Yoga
Cindy Running stresses safety first,inviting participants to explore the sensations of the poses while encouraging a non-competitive enviroment. Cindy cultivates a relaxed,accessible atmosphere in her classes,where participants are free to be themselves,no matter what level of experience they bring.
Cindy Running is a Registered Therapeutic Yoga Teacher,Certified Personal Trainer and a Licensed Massage Practitioner. Cindy began practicing yoga thirty eight years ago while pregnant with her first child as an effort to stay in shape while pregnant – a lofty goal. She delivered a large baby without complication or anesthetic. While studying to become a personal trainer she found yoga to be the single most important part of her work out. Cindy completed a two year yoga teacher training program in Seattle taught by the acclaimed Laura Yon Brooks MA/RYT/LMP. Her classes are a blend of all she gleaned from over thirty years of study,practice and observation. Cindy teaches from her heart and she hopes she can be a resource for anyone who is seeking their greatest potential.
Riverwalk Yoga Studio is Mt. Vernon’s hub for massage,yoga,personal training,meditation classes and more. The studio is located in the newly painted “Tuscan Gold” Carnation Building. 117 N. First,Suite 5,Downtown Mount Vernon – on the main floor facing the river.
2:00-2:45 pm Jessie Tierney ~ Yoga for Horses &their Riders
Horse Lovers will unite with our breath and practice poses to open our bodies,fostering flexibility,balance,strength,and fluidity. This practice attunes the mind,helping us sharpen focus and deepen the ability to communicate with our equine (and human) friends. This class is suitable for horse enthusiasts across disciplines with all levels of yoga experience.
Jessie Tierney is a Yoga Alliance Certified &Registered Yoga Teacher. She studied with Om Ananda Yoga in the Shambhava Tradition. She teaches yoga to children,leads Yoga-infused Outdoor Education Hikes,Horseback Yoga,Hayloft Yoga,and a variety of studio-based classes. She works as an aide and teaches yoga at Sedro Woolley Physical Therapy,and also teaches a fun,non-intimidating,riding-inspired yoga practice in the hayloft at Double S Quarter Horses in Bow.
3:00-3:45 pm Kate Bowers ~ Yoga for the Brain
Yoga for the Brain is a class for all ages. This class provides a zippy challenge to the brain and body in surprising ways. We’ll use crazy props like blow pipes and hula hoops. We’ll clap,tap and rap. Prepare to laugh. Bring friends ages 5 and up.
Kate Bowers, owner of Cascades Yoga &Neurotherapy,has taught yoga for 16 years and practiced for 32. She trained extensively at the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco,CA and since has been an ardent student of yoga. For 15 years she studied neurotherapy with neuroscience pioneer,Judith Bluestone. Bowers obtained HANDLE (R) Institute certification to work with people aged 5 and up with mild neurological and neurobehavioral challenges such as ADD,ADHD,learning of disabilities and mild brain injuries. Bowers works as both a yoga teacher and neurotherapist with groups and individuals. Bowers uses gentile humor,compassion and mindfulness to help others explore the self discovery offered by both practices. She hosts the Yoga Minute radio show on KSVR’s 91.7 FM on Mondays at 5:25 PM.
At the Bow Yoga Club, Bowers teaches small group, private yoga and neuro yoga classes where small dogs Cracker and Godzilla keep it real and inspire loving kindness. Bowers teaches yoga in Anacortes at Island View Elementary School,the Anacortes Senior Center and the Anacortes Center for Happiness where she currently teaches Neuro Yoga for Kids. Yoga classes combine traditional and obscure yogic practices with Ayruvedic and neurotherapeutic influences. Visit the website or call 766-4282.
4:00-4:45 pm Jen McFraland ~ Finding the Grace Within
Finding the Grace Within with Jen McFarland of Crescent Moon Yoga is a multi-level yoga class with energy building kriyas,pranayama and inspirational words.
The benefits of yoga,strength,flexibility,and relaxation techniques,are far reaching and promote healthy living. Crescent Moon Yoga offers a variety of classes from Hatha and Vinyasana flow,Anusara,and Iyengar. Believing in community,our studio utilizes local talent to facilitate special events,workshops and classes to pamper! Our Yoga studio is located at 521 Morris Street,the Yoga Bliss Building,in La Conner,a quaint little town in the Skagit Valley. Our focus is yoga for every body.
5:00 ~ 5:45 pm Dawn Lee ~ Yoga for the Triathlete
Gentle Yoga for the Trialthete is a needed addition for healthy muscles,reduction of injury and prime recovery. Whether you are seasoned,brand new,or a triathele at heart,yoga is a vital part of training. We will focus on stretching all the muscles that are used during swimming,riding and running.
Hailing originally from Columbus,Indiana,Dawn Lee combines the midwestern sensibilities of her upbringing with the progressive ideals of the west coast to offer a holistic,attainable approach to wholeness and fitness of mind,body,and spirit. She blends her innate love of the outdoors with her academic training in nutrition and fitness to assist her clients in developing an individualized plan for whole body wellness.
With twelve years experience as a fitness instructor and four years as the owner/operator of Expressive Fit,Dawn has extensive expertise as a yoga instructor,having worked with individuals and groups in a variety of settings. An avid marathoner,cyclist,swimmer,and tri-athlete,Dawn works in team situations to promote individual wellness and team cohesion. She also offers themed workshops to small and moderate sized groups.
Dawn is excited about her latest venture in personal wellness,Skype yoga appointments. Using the flexibility and accessibility offered by current technology,Dawn now offers personal internet yoga sessions,allowing the client the comfort and privacy of their own home while offering the benefit of an instructor led encounter.
We could not have dreamed up a more springlike and lovely first day of Hayloft Yoga! The sun was warm, the frogs were cheeping, the birds singing, and of course, the horses were peacefully munching their dinner beneath us as we practiced.
There were some new faces in the Hayloft last evening ~ welcome! ~ and with their presence a reminder that you don’t have to own horses (or even have ridden a horse before!) to enjoy and benefit from Hayloft Yoga.
We opened practice in Supta Baddha Konasana (supported reclined bound angle pose), belly-breathing and releasing tension. In the space of openness, I read this Barbara Marciniak quote:
“Imagine Yourself unbounded, with an opportunity at every turn, and this is what you will create. Set up limitations, and you will find them. Remember, you effortlessly attract the energies that support your version of life.”
In life and in asana (yoga poses), we can work toward manifesting whatever we imagine. When we find tightness in the body, instead of pushing through it or becoming frustrated, we instead honor that this is where the body is today, and continue to breathe. We can imagine going deeper, staying conscious of our breath. In this way, we patiently and persistently begin to energetically move the body in the right direction, through the power of intention. With practice (this is why Yoga is referred to as a practice and not an exercise), we begin to find that our tightness opens, the body becomes strong yet supple, and perhaps after weeks, months, or even years, we find ourselves an embodiment of what we imagined.
IT TAKES TIME
One of my teachers told me the story of a yoga master: One of the master’s students was having difficulty sitting in sukhasana (easy seated pose). The master instructed him: “Each day, sit in sukhasana for one hour. Place a large phone book under each knee. Each day, you may tear off one sheet from the phone book.” Eventually, after many years of practice, the student was able to sit with ease in this pose.
It takes loving kindness, patience, and persistence. If your intention is there, if your imagination is activated, the rest will follow.
The same goes for our lives. If we take the time to imagine our most ideal life, full of ease and abundance, if we dedicate some time and energy toward creating a strong enough intention, we will see that eventually it becomes manifest. There are dozens of books and teachings supporting this concept. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay is a great start. Try it for yourself: click here for a simple exercise you can do on your own. If you are uncertain where to start, try setting an intention of Becoming Whole.
As we practice yoga, we take steps toward reaching our highest potential. I am honored to share this practice with you.
But it’s definitely NOT about turning yourself into a pretzel on your horse.
At first glance, yoga on horseback may seem like an impossible and potentially unsafe merging of opposites. However, it is important to consider some of the core principles of yoga: in these principles we find what truly unifies riding and yoga.
Yoga is not the simple act of turning oneself into a pretzel; it combines mindfulness with breath and a myriad of other subtle practices in hopes to achieve Union (of body-mind-heart-spirit). Horseback riding, when done with mindful, embodied intention, truly unites horse and rider through its own subtle techniques. Both yoga and riding are a practice–not to be mastered overnight.
Being horseback is NOT like riding a motorcycle. Your horse has a mind; it has its own personality, its own need for safety, for connection, for oneness with its herd. Attaining trust and understnding to the point where a horse allows a prey animal–the human–to ride astride is miraculous. It requires that the rider is in tune with her body, with the energy she emits, with her thoughts.
In the study of equestrian arts and the science of yoga, I have found more similarities than I could have imagined. After having grown up on horseback, then finding yoga when horses were no longer a part my life, I now find a union of this art and science to be natural and intuitive. Consider alignment, for instance. It is virtually the same in Sukhasana as in sitting in a saddle: rooted through the seat bones, spine tall, shoulders back and down, chin parallel with the earth. The more subtle elements of a yoga practice–the breath, quieting the body, centering the mind–are equally applicable and in fact instrumental in achieving a focused, unified ride with an equine partner. As I began teaching Horseback Yoga in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Colorado, my perceived limitations floated away on nearly every exhale–my riders were able to do virtually anything they set their minds to.
I currently offer Horseback Yoga classes at Double S Quarter Horses. Please contact me if you are interested in setting up a Horseback Yoga Workshop.
HOW HORSEBACK YOGA WORKS
Here I will offer a simplified step-by-step outline to paint a picture of one shape Horseback Yoga can take. This is by no means meant as an instructional piece. Practitioners and riders should seek the guidance of a professional before attempting these exercises on their own.
So sit tall, take a deep breath, and enjoy this step-by-step approach to Union with the horse.
1. SET YOUR INTENTION
2. BECOME CONGRUENT: BE PRESENT WITH YOUR SELF
3. BE PRESENT WITH YOUR HORSE
4. INTERACT WITH YOUR HORSE
5. LEAD YOUR HORSE TO THE PRACTICE SPACE
6. WARM UP
7. WARM YOUR HORSE UP
9. SYNCHRONIZE YOUR BREATHING
10. SLOW AND LENGTHEN YOUR BREATHING
Click below to enlarge the photos and to view as a slideshow!
11. HORSEBACK ASANAS
Practitioners and riders should seek the guidance of a professional before attempting these exercises on their own.