let’s get uncomfortable

The Discomfort Zone… 

It’s not a place we talk about often. Certainly not a place we strive to be.

But it is a very important place.

It’s possible that our extreme desire for comfort keeps us a little too protected. We successfully avoid situations where we are forced to grow, where there is uncertainty, where we don’t already feel adept and safe. This can make us reactive, entitled and a little lazy.

Not to mention what our desire for comfort — and convenience — has done to the planet…but that’s a topic for another time.

In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama offer his sage wisdom on building resilience against mental/emotional suffering. He says:

     “Like physical illness, preventative measures are the best way. Yes, if some disease has already developed, then there’s no other choice but to take medicine. So similarly, once a person develops a strong negative emotion, like anger or jealousy, it is very difficult to counter it at that moment. So the best thing is to cultivate your mind through practice so that you can learn to prevent it from arising in the first place.” 

By getting into our Discomfort Zone, we can practice non-reactivity, observe how a feeling or sensation changes and meet the moment in reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.

You might be familiar with these qualities in your yoga practice, certainly in your meditation and asana practices.

This is one of the skills Yoga helps to develop — being with what is, as it is, without immediately discharging it, trying to fix or distract from it. 

Here are a few ways to strengthen this skill, like a muscle, on your mat:

  • Practice meditation — anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes — in complete stillness. Sit with the itch, the wanting to fidget, and watch the feeling or sensation change, maybe even disappear.

  • When in a yoga pose, stay even when it becomes (safely) intense. Warmth and tingling in the thighs in Warrior II? Awkward and humbling in the arm balance? Again, stay with it and watch the sensations change and move.

  • In Savasana, resist the impulse to move immediately at the “end” of the time. Notice that some of your urges are habitual rather than conscious choice.

  • And in all situations, utilize Yoga philosophy. The practices and observances of Yoga philosophy are practical concepts that can be applied to every aspect of life like a balm. There’s a series starting on May 4th — check it out.

Why does any of this matter? What good does it do to go into a discomfort zone? Isn’t that opposite of what Yoga is for?

As my teacher Mary often says, Yoga is not a practice to make us feel better, it is an opportunity to feel.

This is a whole-life path. It builds mental, emotional AND physical strength and flexibility.

With love,
Michelle 

PS Remember to check out the upcoming Wisdom Pages Book Club

And let’s celebrate the poets and poetry lovers who took the time to share their favorites. See all the videos of both teachers and students.

joy *and* sorrow: santosha


“We try so hard to separate joy and sorrow into their own boxes,
but the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama tell us that they are inevitably fastened together. Neither advocate the kind of fleeting happiness, often called hedonic happiness, that requires only positive states and banishes feelings like sadness to emotional exile.
The kind of happiness that they describe is often called eudemonic happiness
and is characterized by self-understanding, meaning, growth, and acceptance,
including life’s inevitable suffering, sadness, and grief.”

This is a quote from The Book of Joy. In Yoga philosophy, we might talk about the qualities described here as Aparigraha (non-grasping or letting go), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender), and Santosha (contentment), which I’d like to highlight today.

All of these concepsedimentary rockts are layered like sedimentary rock, and to say that Santosha means passively accepting whatever happens in your life is overly simplistic.

Let’s take the example above from The Book of Joy. Every life will have moments of loss, disappointment and grief. Does that mean we should just be “fine” with it? Not exactly.

While the translation of Santosha is usually contentment, acceptance, satisfaction, ease or harmony, the deeper layers reveal a quality of openness that acknowledges oneself and one’s environment as it is.

Rather than being at war with reality, Santosha invites us to stop relentlessly chasing the next thing — more more more — and instead, rest into ourselves as we are. That place of willingness and honesty is the only place from which true change can occur.

It could also be described as the lack of trsna, or craving. This speaks to the common definition of suffering as “wishing things other than they actually are,” which is the opposite of Santosha.

Is this easy? Absolutely not. Which is why we need support, reminders, and a healthy dose of discipline to keep practicing (because like strengthening a muscle, we can get better at it).

Arguably, the practice of Yoga could be described as the process of self-reliance, self-examination and self-development.

Each module of The Daily Craft came from the heart of this intention — to become aware of ourselves more honestly, to see what we would otherwise try to camouflage, and ultimately to develop the aspects of ourselves that do not serve us or the world.

If you are interested in how Yoga Philosophy can support you in this endeavor, I invite you to join me for Yoga Philosophy for Today’s World. We’ll interact with 10 core principles and peek into the Yoga Sutras, another important text.

Of course, this is also a plug for the upcoming Wisdom Pages Book Club. I’m totally digging this book — it’s simultaneously inspiring and practical.

And POETRY! There’s still time to sign up for your spot to read your favorite poem and celebrate hope, community, and your favorite authors. 

With love,
Michelle

you are invited to celebrate

April is National Poetry Month. 

Before you say that you’re not a poet or poetry isn’t your thing, so you have nothing to celebrate, consider this — maybe you didn’t think yoga would be for you before you tried it. Before you fall in love with someone or something, there’s no way to know what impact it will have on your life.

Poems are like that.

In honor of National Poetry Month, Holly has put together several ways to explore poems and their power. So before you write it off, read on…

Communal pondering. This is how poet, Marilyn Nelson, describes what happens when we come together to listen to others read poetry out loud.

Yoga, like poetry, is a form of communal pondering. We ponder, we get curious about the activity of the mind, the sensations in the body, and the feelings that arise during practice.

At It’s All Yoga, you’ll often hear poetry read by our teachers to take you deeper into the inquiry. You might have heard poems by Mary Oliver, Jane Hirschfield, Ellen Bass, David Whyte, Billy Collins, and so many more. Our teachers love poetry!

Our community’s deep connection to poetry inspired me to find ways to bring the celebration of National Poetry Month in April to It’s All Yoga. 

We’re calling it Yogetry Month!

First, many of our teachers graciously offered to read their favorite poem on video, so that you can listen to their voices anytime to inspire, perhaps, a little home yoga practice? We will be sharing those throughout the month on Facebook, so stay tuned.

Also, look for little poetry mementos around the studio all month. We have free gifts as well as opportunities for YOU to share your love of poetry with our community.

Listen to a Poemdavid wagoner poem

As you know, many IAY teachers love and rely on poems as part of their practices. In celebration of the month, you can hear them read their favorite poems. Videos will be released throughout the month.

Read Your Favorite Poem

Friday, April 21, from 12:00 – 2:00 PM

We want to hear your voices, too! Read your favorite poem of hope or comfort. Jeanne and I will facilitate the recording of poems, so please RSVP by Wednesday, April 19 to get your time scheduled.

Write an Acrostic Poem

All month at the studio.

Look for half sheets of paper with a simple prompt to inspire your own poem. Hand them into your teacher, and we’ll post poems on the bulletin board in the foyer.

 Free Gifts

Keep an eye out at the studio for surprises and treats in celebration of poetry. (The presents will go nicely with the upcoming Wisdom Pages Book Club as well!)

I am so grateful for the opportunity to communally ponder with you every week in class, and look forward to sharing our love of poetry for the entire month of April. Let’s practice Yogetry together!

With love and support,
Holly

what’s in store for April

The studio theme for April is Embraceholly holt

Embrace :: to hold or take into one’s arms, to welcome, to accept, to support, take to one’s heart, to include, to embody, to hug. You might explore any one of the many meanings of this word this month… Embrace.

Like the age-old advice of an apple a day, I’ve heard that 12 hugs a day is good for one’s health. That’s a lot of hugs! I’m totally counting the hugs from my dog. Or, like Holly, you could embrace a bolster!

Embraced is how we hope you feel every time you walk into the studio. Actual hug is optional.

In the philosophical sense, we are asked again and again to embrace what is. My teacher Mary often uses the phrase, This is what’s happening… right now.  The “right now” suggests that it won’t always be this way — for good or bad. Yet peace, ease, joy and eventually change, are possible only when we meet the reality of the moment as it is.

This is easy to say and harder to do. Our practice of Yoga supports us in developing the necessary skills and self awareness. It makes me think of the philosophy that we’ll be covering next month in The Daily Craft. Practical, usable skills for life, especially helpful in challenging times.

Two other exciting pieces of news this month:

Book Club! It’s All Yoga is starting (actually resuming) a book club called Wisdom Pages and our first meeting will be on May 7th with The Book of Joy. Completely free, just let us know you’ll be coming so we have enough snacks.

Second is a teaser about a very special IAY celebration of National Poetry Month. The full announcement will come next week. For now, look for hints at the studio…and get ready to hear some of your teachers’ favorite poems.

That feels good in embrace…

Michelle and the IAY fam


Bella DreizlerGrow Loose, Long & Strong

with Bella Dreizler

Saturdays April 8, May 6, 1 – 4pm

Loose, Long and Strong moves to chapter 2: Grow Strong. What you learn in Grow Strong makes the benefit of rolling more than a temporary fix.  This three-hour health care investment stands alone: thirty minutes of roll review followed by an awakening of the subtle power of your extraordinary core, your vibrant center. 

Go home totally video-supported and motivated to take on the 10 minute daily-do that will keep many common physical challenges to a minimum.  

Read more here.


singing meditationSinging Meditation with Jeanne Munoz

Sunday April 9, 1 – 2:30pm

Singing is a powerful tool for transformation. It can make a gloomy day brighter by encouraging rhythmic breath and the release of authentic, healing sound.

Singing Meditation is different from a formal kirtan practice, which usually has a call-and-response element. This is a opportunity to simply sing your heart out and feel the voice reverberate in the body and in the room. 

Smiles, laughter, conquering fear, and reduced stress are some of the side effects of singing. No experience necessary. 

Get in tune here.


Radiant FriendChant & Be Happy

with Radiant Friend
Saturday April 22, 7 – 8:30pm

Join Radiant Friend, a multi-instrumental Kirtan band led by Alicia Patrice, for call and response chanting, a practice that unites us with our highest, happiest selves. We will repeat mantras–words, phrases and syllables– to quiet our minds and allow the integration of the meaning of the mantras into our consciousness.

No musical experience necessary. Sing, listen, dance, recline or meditate to the chants.

No online signup necessary! (Cash or check at the door.)


Kim WagamanYoga for Scoliosis Support

with Kim Wagaman
Sunday April 23, 1 – 4pm

These 3-hour classes for yoga practitioners with scoliosis are designed to support those who want to deepen their awareness and understanding of their bodies and refine the practice to meet their specific and unique needs.

Practitioners will learn modifications to commonly practiced yoga poses that can limit rather than intensify the conditions of scoliosis. All levels welcome. 

Register by email to Kim Wagaman.


new moon yogaApril New Moon Practice 

with Jeanne Munoz & Alicia Patrice
April 26, 7:30-8:45 pm


Celebrate the darkness and renewal of the New Moon in Taurus with Jeanne & Alicia! Knowing these two, the evening will certainly be infused with music! 

Your spot is waiting here… 


Beginner's YogaHatha Yoga Basics with Gina 

Mondays May 1 – June 12, 7:30 – 8:45pm

(no class on Memorial Day)

Read Gina’s love letter for Basics…During this 6 weeks, you will be given the foundations of your yoga practice – alignment, breath awareness, and a vocabulary of poses you can take with you anywhere. This is followed immediately by a special 2 week unlimited class pass during which you may taste as many items as you like in our yoga class buffet.

Get yourself in the series here. Only a few spots left!


ahimsaYoga Philosophy for Today’s World 

Thursdays May 4 – July 6, 6-7:30pm

The philosophical basis of Yoga is what sets it apart from exercise. You’ve already experienced many of the qualities — kindness, resolve, self awareness — in class and as a result of your practice. 

  • Do you want more grounding and guidance in your life?

  • Do you want tools to help you through the challenges of our times?

  • Do you wish to deepen your practice and relationship to yourself and the world?

  • Have you had the feeling that there’s “more” to yoga and you want to know what it is?

These foundational principles create the toolkit we use to examine ourselves and develop as human beings.

Each class includes study, asana, meditation and discussion.

Let’s investigate and deepen together. Read more here.



yoga book club

Wisdom Pages 

Sunday, May 7, 3-4:30pm

The IAY book club is back (10 years later). Join us for our first meeting on The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Club meeting includes a short practice, snacks and thoughtful discussion.

See the full flier.   Please RSVP here.


View our website | See the full class schedule | The Daily Craft

spring tips (and a facial massage)

Springtime!

Along with its spectacular blossoms, sweet fragrance and idealistic temperatures, spring can bring allergies, changes in digestion and emotional/energetic agitation.

Every season has its challenges. I’m almost always looking for ways to slow down, nourish, and strike that balance between activity and rest. But spring asks for added attention to cleansing and clearing out.

Here are three tips to keep your body in good stead this spring:



  • Start the day with warm lemon water. A classic Ayurvedic practice, drinking this before anything else helps flush the digestive system and alkalize the body, creating the best conditions for health.

    BONUS: Throw a pinch of sea salt in there for an electrolyte boost (if it tastes salty, it was too much salt – dilute and use less next time).

  • Just like in the winter care protocol, Nasya, the oiling of the nostrils, is a great practice for spring. It helps soothe any dryness or irritation.

  • Skip the dairy. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it might be worth it to ditch dairy (which can put a strain on the immune system) for two weeks and see if it makes a difference.

    Also try eating more fruit and nuts every day, which have anti-inflammatory antioxidants and omega 3s respectively.

  • And try facial massage! Our lymph is part of our immune system, helping remove unwanted bacteria and proteins from the tissues and transport the good antibodies and white blood cells.

    In Ayurveda, lymph is the first system treated when there’s a problem. Getting things moving first thing will help you feel (and look) healthy and fresh.

    Below is a very informal video of the massage I do every morning. I have very sensitive skin and this has helped neutralize it and reduce flare ups, especially related to allergies.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes! (And feel free to share with your friends!)

Meanwhile, enjoy this gorgeous spring week,

Michelle


meditation fail

I’m bad at meditation. 
I can’t meditate — my mind goes crazy.
The volume in my head gets turned up when it gets quiet.
I can’t stop the thoughts.
I can’t sit still.

Does any of that sound familiar? Maybe out of your own mouth?

How about reframing it? Let’s flip that reactive dismissal like a pancake.

What if we called it:

meditation
  • Noticing
  • Paying attention
  • Mindfulness
  • Being aware of your life
  • Being awake
  • Listening
  • Getting to know yourself
  • Tuning (like an instrument)
  • Sitting down
  • Pausing

Don’t those feel a little more inviting? A little less intimidating? 

Here’s the thing: There is no “winning” at meditation. Which means you can’t fail at it.

You aren’t supposed to stop the thoughts. You probably won’t feel blissed out and peaceful, at least not in the beginning. 

You might actually feel itchy, restless, irritated, bored and/or a little bit crazy.

So why do it?!? 

Well, it may feel that way at first, but this is brain-training and it DOES get “easier” and more calming.

Besides that, reasons and research abound supporting the benefits of this practice. In order for something to stick, often we have to get to the place of desire (or at least curiosity) for ourselves.

If you are there — or you’re just tired of hearing that it’s good for you — this is the week to test it out.

The in-studio Mindfulness Meditation module starts Thursday at 6 pm — there are a few spots left.

The Virtual Meditation Challenge also starts Thursday and is the perfect blend of accountability of flexibility.

Jump in. Take it off your “someday” list and give it a go.

Come sit with us,
Michelle, Jeanne and Ellen

PS – what’s your favorite word replacement for “meditation?”


this is the perfect time to try it.


Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment non-judgmentally. -Jon Kabat-Zinn


Maybe your doctor has told you to try it. Maybe you used to meditate but fell out of the habit (you’re in good company).

It seems like every week you can find the topic of meditation and its incredible health benefits related to neuroplasticity, mood and physiology in the paper, on 60 Minutes and in medical journals.

Even the Dalai Lama says he uses the increasing body of science and research on meditation to motivate him when he doesn’t want to get up at 3 am for his prayer and sitting practice.

More than that, last year when we held the Meditation Challenge, I talked to students who got off their blood pressure medication, finally ditched insomnia and experienced more patience and peace at high-stress jobs. Those are some serious health perks.

That’s why I get excited when Meditation Month rolls around at IAY. I know there will be excitement, momentum and personal stories about how big benefit can come from just a little effort.
be here now
This year we have TWO ways you can start or support your sitting practice.

First there’s the in-studio Mindfulness Meditation Series — the third module of The Daily Craft. This is a 6-week series on Thursday evenings with Ellen.

The second way you can participate is in the Virtual Meditation Challenge.
Also 6 weeks, the Challenge can be done from anywhere and includes video, audio and written support.

Both start on March 23rd.

Mindfulness Meditation series — 6 weeks in the studio (and includes the Virtual Challenge materials)

Virtual Meditation Challenge — 6 weeks from anywhere

Building a habit is 100 times easier and more fun with friends, resources and accountability. Check it out.

Let us know if you have questions.
Michelle


View our website | See the full class schedule | The Daily Craft


march overview… listen

The studio theme for March is Listeningforest

As always, we leave the themes open to interpretation, as invitations to explore, open the senses, apply them to your life.

In Teacher Training we do a listening exercise that involves not responding to another person while they are speaking. It’s interesting how often we equate listening with responding. Yet to truly listen is to receive without needing to add or change anything. 

It is a challenging exercise for most, yet in every program, people comment on how powerful it is on one side to feel truly heard…and on the other side, how relieving it is to not have to come up with something brilliant to say!

Try it:

The next time you are having a conversation with a loved one, simply receive what he or she is saying. Give that person your full focus. Resist the urge to plan your response in your head. Resist the urge to finish their sentence. Resist the urge to comment immediately when they’re done speaking.

Can you communicate your empathy with your posture or your eyes? What is it like to sit, even for a few seconds, in the space of silence?

It’s amazing what happens when there’s room and time in an interaction. So much more is said, and most of it is not through words.

Let me know how goes

We’ll be listening,

Michelle and the IAY fam

 

Class Schedule Updates

A few additions and adjustments to the schedule:

Monday 9:30-11 am Gentle Flow with Althea (an extra 15 minutes of bliss)
*New* Monday 12-12:45 pm Monday Midday Movement with Gina
*New* Wednesday 4:30-5:40 pm Release & Restore with Yoga Nidra with Sethyne

Check out our full class schedule and plan your week.

 


alexis marbach - trauma sensitive yogaYoga Teacher Immersion

Bring Trauma-Informed Principles into your Teaching 
with Alexis Marbach

Saturday March 11, 1 – 7pm
Sunday March 12, 11am – 4pm

Alexis is coming in from Boston to offer her specialty training on how to create a more inviting class environment for trauma survivors.

This training will create a foundation for understanding trauma and the way it can be present in individuals, and explore the ways that we can heal trauma through yoga.

This experiential training is open for yoga teachers from all backgrounds, levels of experience, and teaching environments (even those currently in their 200 hour training programs).

Read the full curriculum for the weekend
 


pelvic bowl with bella driezlerThe Chakras…From the Ground Up! 
Seed & Soil with Mary Paffard

Sunday March 19, 12 – 3pm

As we move into the spring, in March, we will explore Seed and Soil, the intriguing relationship between 1st and 2nd chakras and the emergence of the individual spirit from the cultural morass.

Each session will have a long practice session and some discussion time around how we bring this work into the every day. There will be space for all of us to share our own reflections, questions and findings and in this way create a powerful and supportive sangha for our own chakra journey.

Mary’s teaching is a special gift. Get your spot.
 


meditation seriesThe Daily Craft :: Mindfulness Meditation

with Ellen Robinson-Haynes
Thursdays, 6 -7 pm, March 23 – April 27
 

Mindfulness meditation is a hot topic these days, but how do you create a meaningful and sustainable meditation practice that really works for you?

It’s worth finding out. Research is showing that meditation helps improve everything from brain function to high blood pressure. Do you have insomnia? Do you often feel frayed? Meditation can help. Find out how…

The Virtual Meditation Challenge (below) is included in The Daily Craft Meditation module.
 

meditation at It's All YogaVirtual Meditation Challenge

with Jeanne Munoz
March 23 – April 27
 
Every year, we dedicate April to the essential practice of meditation and offer you — wherever you are — the chance to build or grow a meditation practice through the Virtual Meditation Challenge.

This year, we’re upping our game. The Challenge will run for 6 weeks instead of 4 (better odds of building the habit), we’re including even MORE virtual, audio and written education, and you can sit (virtually) with actual people in the Challenge Monday through Friday each week using YouTube Live.

Read all about the Challenge and sign up here.
 

Bella DreizlerGrow Loose, Long & Strong

with Bella Dreizler
Saturdays March 25, April 8, May 6, 1 – 4pm
 

These three Saturday afternoons are dedicated to experience the benefit of:
  • loosening tight joints and fascia 
  • strengthening less than optimal core power
  • creating flexibility and a healthy long spine 
You can take the series or drop into any one. Video instructional support included so you can practice this movement medicine at home and feel the rewards continue on your mat and in your life.

Ready to roll?
 

restorative yogaRestorative Yoga to Ease Seasonal Transitions
with Alicia Patrice
Sunday March 26, 2 – 4pmThe body renews and restores when it is at rest and a perfect time to practice this is at the seasonal shifts. We’ll use Restorative Yoga to help us learn to live in harmony with the seasons and to balance the busy-ness of life with support, deep breathing and presence.In the transition from Winter to Spring, we have the opportunity to awaken to new possibilities.  That awakening sometimes brings a bit of Spring fever, so we’ll also look for balance in the frenzy that sometimes accompanies rebirth.  In this period of deep rest, figuring out what we really want for the season is possible.

Sign up here. Only 5 spots left.
 

moon series

Moon Series Special :: March New Moon 
with Carrie Meyer

Monday March 27, 7:30 – 9 pm

Celebrate the darkness and renewal of the New Moon with Carrie as she weaves an evening of new moon psychology, astrology, the chakras, the elements and your own personal intention. 

The Moon Series classes have been selling out. Grab your spot here. 



View our website | See the full class schedule | The Daily Craft

 

winter care

lichen and moss - winter careIf you think about winter in elemental or weather terms, our climate here has been cold and wet.

There’s a system of health and healing out of the Indian/Tibetan lineage and related to Yoga called Ayurveda. Ayurveda in Sanskrit translates to “Science of Longevity” or “Knowledge of Life.”

Ayurveda philosophy is based on the recognition that the elements – ether, air, fire, water and earth – exist within the human body as they do in the environment around us. 

From this awareness, it’s all about relationship, harmony and cause and effect. 

A basic principle of Ayurveda is: 

Like increases like, and opposites balance.

So what does that mean in this winter season? How can we best support our bodies?

Well, we can help balance the qualities of cold and wet with warm, light and grounding. Having cold and wet foods (like ice cream) only increases the cold and wet of winter in our bodies. So we seek to counterbalance.

Here are a few Ayurveda-inspired ideas for basic winter care:

  • Eat whole, healthy food and fresh vegetables (as basic as it is essential)

  • Enjoy warm and warming foods and drinks — ginger, chai, warm lemon water, and foods cooked in warming spices such as…

  • Chili, black pepper, cayenne pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cumin

  • Decrease heavy, dense, oily, and cold foods and drinks (such as creamy pastas, pizza, baked goods, frozen desserts)

  • Minimize processed foods, fried foods, and refined sugars

  • Keep a light heart and sense of purpose 

  • Find ways and reasons to laugh and hug every day

  • Balance rest with aerobic movement — get your body warm and heart-rate up every day

  • Try Nasya — a little bit of oil in the nostrils morning and night. It might sound weird, but a dab of oil (almond, sunflower or even olive) on the ring fingers, swiped inside each nostril, can help alleviate the irritation of heaters, allergens and colds. Try it!

I also have a general rule, especially in cold/flu season, of Never Touching My Face. Even if I wash my hands frequently, there’s still all kinds of goo that gets on me throughout the day. 

Along with the basics of hydration (always warm or room-temperature water), whole food and vegetables, and getting enough rest and downtime, these tips have kept me healthy and cruising through these crisp, sunny days.

If you have ways you winterize, I’d love to hear!

In health,
Michelle

love still trumps hate


Join the IAY contingent for the Women’s March on Sacramento this Saturday. 

Everyone is welcome.

love still trumps hate

We will meet on the basketball court of Southside park at the corner of 6th and W Streets at 9:30 am.

Check out the march website for details on the event, parking and more.

We have 100 Love bandanas — pick yours up at the studio Thursday or Friday, or at the march on Saturday, January 21st.

We look forward to showing up on behalf of all people, standing together, and moving forward with purpose.

Michelle and the IAY fam