Remember the “Ring around the Rosy” game from kindergarten or pre-school?
I sure do.
And I remember not really enjoying the falling down part.
Many of my classmates would laugh and fall and enjoy being silly. I think I figured out very early on that I wasn’t naturally very silly. At least that is what I told myself.
I DID know that I wanted to keep the big “ring of friends” spinning around. Giggling with our hands tightly clasped. No matter what. What was I really thinking? Maybe if we keep holding hands and keep spinning then we can go on like this forever?
Well we all know that’s not the way it goes. And I am learning now squarely in my middle years, tumbling down is a part of life. And that is ok. In fact, it is more than ok.
In the Fall you are probably like me and get that familiar “back to school” feeling, right? My distinct memories are of crisp lined notebooks, a few new clothes from the Mall, and maybe a new friend?
For me, this month it’s all about letting go of some attitudes and feelings about the way I am in the world. I am actually allowing things to fall apart; fall away.
And I’m discovering that it’s not hard at all. In fact, it feels like freedom. It feels like a sweet kind of attentiveness towards myself that I am very ready to embrace.
And maybe –just maybe– I will uncover that sillier side of me too.
Hello there, it’s been awhile since I have reached out. I am grateful for the opportunity to periodically connect with you, sharing some “yoga news and observations”.
As you have likely noticed, the practice of Yoga–in its many forms and “flavors”– has really seen explosive growth in the US in the past few years. The enclosed article summarizes its benefits very well. But I am sharing this article with you for one particular special reason.
I agree with this author that there is an opportunity for yoga to reach those who have yet to appreciate and value it in their own lives.
I love being a yoga “ambassador”. It’s easy. You can be one too! By simply mentioning your own experience to a friend, family member or co-worker, your heartfelt comments may plant the seed for them to check out yoga for themselves.
In addition, there are some superior organizations out there bringing yoga to whole new groups of people who may have never considered the benefits. Inner city youth, turning veterans, prisoners, and youth detention centers to name a few.
Two organizations I know personally doing great work are Prison Yoga Project, @prisonyoga.org. And Lemonade-A Yoga Program (yoga for youth in detention). @Lemonaidsf.org
Take a moment. Take a chance and share your experience. Or support organizations bringing mindfulness and yoga to deserving individuals.
Perhaps by sharing your personal experience you will deepen your commitment to your own yoga journey.
With deep gratitude, Erin
“Be the change you want to see in the world”-Mahatma Gandhi
(photo taken in January 2016, at a memorial garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Land of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center)
Yoga, a modern practice rooted in over 5000 years of ancient Indian texts and traditions, continues to gain popularity in the United States.
A new survey conducted by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal reports that the number of Americans doing yoga has grown by over 50% in the last four years to over 36 million as of 2016, up from 20.4 million in 2012. In addition, nine out of 10 Americans have heard of yoga, one in three Americans has tried yoga at least once, and more than 15% of Americans have done yoga in the last 6 months.
More than a third of Americans say they are very likely to try yoga in the next year. While the majority of yoga practitioners are women (70%), the number of American men doing yoga has more than doubled, going from 4 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2016. The number of American adults over 50 doing yoga has tripled over the last four years to reach 14 million.
A look at the benefits all these new yogis can enjoy
Three out of four Americans believe that “yoga is good for you,” and medical science backs them up: Yoga has been shown to improve health. Several studies have found that yoga can help improve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, balance, and overall quality of life — and it can even reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. In addition, people who do yoga are 20% more likely to have a positive image of their own physical and mental health, including a stronger sense of mental clarity, physical fitness, flexibility, and strength.
Yoga can usher you towards a healthier lifestyle as well.
The survey found that people who do yoga are far more physically active than those who don’t — 75% of yogis participate in sports or other fitness activities.
Yoga practitioners are also more likely to “live green” and eat sustainably. This is consistent with results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, which found that yoga motivated nearly two-thirds of people to exercise more and 40% of people to eat healthier. Of course, it’s possible that people drawn to yoga may be more likely to be more active already. But yoga has been shown to improve physical and mental health and overall quality of life in those who are new to yoga and are not typically physically active.
While contemporary Western yoga tends to focus on yoga as physical exercise, yoga is actually much broader than physical poses alone and includes a rich history of philosophical and ethical principles, breathing exercises, and meditation. Even though many people in the West get into yoga for physical fitness and stress relief, their initial motivations can change. Many yoga teachers integrate lessons on importantprinciples, such as kindness, truthfulness, and self-discipline. Many people stay in yoga for a sense of community, purpose, and self-actualization. Yoga practitioners are also more likely to volunteer — nearly 50% of yoga practitioners report that they donate time to the community.
Why some people aren’t jumping on the bandwagon — and what the yoga community can do about it
One of the survey’s most interesting results reveals the most common reason people don’t try yoga. Often, people see yoga as exclusive — designed primarily for young women or for those who are already flexible, athletic, or spiritual. This finding can hopefully inspire the yoga community to work on making yoga more accessible and inclusive, regardless of a person’s gender, age, current level of flexibility or fitness, or relationship with spirituality.
The fundamental philosophy of yoga encourages being non-judgmental and compassionate to others and ourselves. Yoga is not about perfection or performing a beautiful pose to show other people on Instagram. It’s not a competition of flexibility, nor is it about comparing yourself to the person next to you in yoga class or achieving a challenging pose found on the cover of Yoga Journal.
Yoga is about becoming attuned to our individual self — body and mind — and making room for exactly where we are, while letting go of judgment.
The more we do yoga, the more we can recognize that even our own states can change day to day, moment to moment. As just one example, in yoga practice, poses can be modified based on your own body, including your degree of flexibility or how you’re feeling that day. While there are alignment guidelines to help keep postures safe, poses can and should be tailored to the individual. You can use props like blocks, chairs, straps, blankets, or even the wall to find a version of the pose that feels right for you.
As yoga continues to become more popular in the U.S., we must not lose the true spirit of yoga as one of compassion, awareness, and acceptance. With this message of inclusivity, yoga and its benefits can become more accessible.
It’s a beautiful breezy October afternoon in Marin County.
Yes of course the weather is terrific, but I have made a little shift in my approach to my days that has been quite illuminating, making this day and many of my most recent days quite extraordinary.
I have started to notice the power of the “micro-moment”.
You have likely heard of Mindfulness, the practice of “active focused attention to the present moment”.
Well, I am beginning to harness the power of observation of these tiny moments throughout my days, with some pretty interesting findings.
The first step in my “micro-moment” exercise has been to become a keen observer of my life.
I notice that it is much easier to be kind, gentle and engaged with the joy and purpose in my life when I have had a good night’s sleep, a well-paced day of work and healthy personal interactions, energizing exercise and healthy food choices. Oh and dose of laughter and fun too.
There are also plenty of days where I feel unsure, overcommitted, unprepared, anxious and downright sad. Not exercising enough, not having meaningful interactions. Being too generous with others and too stingy with myself. Eating food that isn’t very nourishing. On those days I feel a bit adrift and certainly not very clear about much in my life.
Using the micro moment “filter” I have come to realize that life is simply a series of moments. And within those moments are cycles of feelings.
The daily dedication then becomes all about softening the intensity of how I feel about these moments, especially on those days that aren’t flowing very well. I first start with a deep compassionate place within myself. And then I simply accept that these days are made up of a series of moments. These moments contain a range of feelings, that arise–and subside.
Just like the clouds in a windy sky.
Ah, and remembering always the sacred power of my breath to calm and soothe me through these moments. That is what I am noticing right now.
UPCOMING NEW NOVEMBER and DECEMBER CLASSES. ERIN ELLIOTT YOGA
With the cooler and shorter days, we will move back into my indoor studio starting in NOVEMBER.
Yin and Yang Flow CLASSES
TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS. 9:15am-10:30am.
PLEASE NOTE the first class in November will be on November 12.
On Mothers Day I head out on a ten day adventure through Bali, meeting up with my 21 yr daughter who has been studying in Indonesia this semester. I’m looking forward to her “showing me around” 🙂
As I get ready for this trip, I thought I would share a bit about my current perspectives on my personal yoga journey.
For me, I have begun to identify my yoga practice as simply my “path to peace”.
The “pranayama”(breath practices), and the mindful transitions between the asanas (poses), as well as the poses themselves, are all stepping stones on my personal path.
This of course applies to my experience on my yoga mat and also out in my world.
The path gets a little uneven at times. Sometimes I feel very unsteady and unsure of where I am going.
Looking ahead to Sunday, I am feeling a little anxious about the big overnight flight, and a completely new culture to navigate.
The article I am sharing below has familiar themes that I share in class. But these basic tenants bear repeating. Especially when we are facing new challenges and obstacles in our path.
By coming back to the breath, embracing what “is” true in the moment, doing our best, and finally-letting go of the outcome– we can face new experiences along the path with an open yet confident heart.
Most of you are here in Marin County, where the jasmine and wisteria are sharing their fleeting bouquet of beauty and fragrance. Each week it seems that nature unwraps a newly emerged “delight” for us, ready to be free of its winter hibernation.
And what better time to move my yoga classes outdoors to my garden!
Many of you know what a unique experience it is to practice yoga outdoors. The most obvious difference is that as you practice, your spirit can’t help but become more “enlivened” because your senses are more engaged. If you haven’t tried it, I’d like to invite you to attend a class very soon.
My SPRING 2015 schedule is as follows:
Wednesdays. 10:30-11:45am. and a new afternoon class-4:45-6pm
As usual, please drop me an email (or text message) if you would like to attend.
I do limit the class size, in order to provide students individual attention, so appreciate knowing in advance of your attendance.
And please call or email me if you have any questions.
Grateful? A bit annoyed? Or perhaps relieved to receive a reminder?
We all know that taking deep breaths can help create more calm. But have you actually tried it? There are a myriad of studies proving that your nervous system can and does respond immediately to simply putting active awareness towards your breath. So, Why not take a moment and try it now?
Step one is simple-close your eyes and just take a moment to just notice what is happening with your breath. Is it shallow? Is the inhale shorter than the exhale? All you need to do is notice. Step two- try lengthening your inhales and exhales longer than your usual breathing pattern, exploring a basic rhythm that feels good to you. Do this for 3-5 rounds. And that’s it!
One 40 year old former athlete-turned-yoga teacher, J Brown, released an innovative documentary-style yoga video not too long ago. What I love most about his teaching is that he embraces the concept that the BREATH is the POSE. J Brown’s teaching is very slow and intentional and it builds on itself. If you start with the breath as your foundation and match your movement to your breath then the breath becomes the focus of your practice. I believe that this is a wonderful because it provides a platform to make yoga ACCESSIBLE to everyone. Athletes, children, seniors, even those with chronic pain and mobility issues.
When I go slowly in my yoga practice, I must admit that I do “feel” more. I feel not only my body limitations but also my emotions. Which can of course be challenging. But by engaging the breath–which I recognize now is more present and reliable than even my dearest friend–I can get re-engaged with what is happening on my yoga mat and renew and recommit my focus.
A final few words
How many of us have been sidelined by illness or injury and were incredibly frustrated and in many cases felt a little depressed about the “aging process” setting in? Practicing going slowly is a skill that will prepare us for these inevitable times in our life when we are required to go slowly.
By “practicing” going slowly with intentional breath in my yoga practice, I have been developing new wisdom and actually new “life” skills. These skills actually provide a new found confidence. I now get to actually choose the “speed” of my actions and reactions—slow, medium or quick— based the specific effort being called upon. It’s DEFINITELY something that requires focus and practice!
If you want to explore this further with me, I’d be happy to speak to you one-on-one.