California Gold

In 1849, thousands of people began a journey across an inhospitable and often unmapped continent to follow the dream of California gold. They were leaving all that was familiar behind and exploring unfathomed depths in themselves, as well as alien landscapes and sometimes hostile environments.

Some turned around, the cruel weather, raging thirst and failing livestock too much for them to endure. Many died along the way — cholera, dysentery and scurvy were rampant, and makeshift memorials flanked the routes west. Still they came, in what was to be the greatest mass migration in American history.

The ’49ers headed west in search of their fortune, but I see that wholesale migration as something more than gold fever. The country was full of hope and people, mostly men, who were willing to embrace the unknown rather than stay put to endure the same fate as their parents. The personal freedom that California offered those who would risk the journey was as valuable as the gold that “paved the streets.”

Even now, 150 years later, that same freedom of choice and willingness to try — to fail, even — is the spirit of this sunny state. I am honored to watch my students endure, struggle and succeed with the same pioneering spirit that kept a swarm of humanity putting one foot ahead of the other.

This year, I have lived in California for half of my life. For some reading this, I have known you for almost as long. Every day I count my blessings, and the greatest of these is that I have the freedom to make my own way with the support of people who have like minds.

Each of us carries a little California gold in our hearts, a little of the pioneer — it’s what keeps us going when the going gets tough.


Image credit: Loren Kerns via Flickr (CC)

Yoga Source Wrap-Up: What Now?

I’m still a little punch-drunk after the whirlwind of Yoga Source. It was an amazing weekend, and I want to send a profound thank you to so many people for making it a success.

I had a huge amount of fun reconnecting with my classmates from the Thomas Hanna Somatic group, watching them work and sharing my work with them. It was inspirational to see our own Yoga Nook teachers pushing the envelope and creating new classes, bringing new ideas and combinations to the floor.

Yoga Source Hanna Somatic Educators
Yoga Source Presenters and Hanna Somatic Educators (L to R): Rick Olderman, Jeni Winterburn, Elise and Thomas McMasters, Caroline Wright  (Photo credit: Kim Galbraith)

All in all, it was a weekend full of creative energy that was invested in our Simi Valley yoga community. Yoga students at both studios are still buzzing from the experience, and everyone has asked about next year.

What now?

Some information from the workshops will be blended into your regular classes, as Yoga Nook teachers integrate their newly acquired knowledge into their own practice and then bring it to you.

Yoga Source Yoga Nook teachers
Yoga Nook teachers Lisa, Yasa and Sarah  (Photo credit: Kim Galbraith)

Some presenters will be making repeat visits to offer individual workshops over the next 10 months. Other teachers are being invited to expand on their subjects, providing you with more detailed information in the form of workshops to improve your yoga experience.

Watch this space because next year will be bigger and better. The Source team has learned a great deal from this first experience and will be bringing you more inspiring classes, amazing presenters and healing arts. Save the dates… March 10, 11 & 12, 2017.

Yoga Nook continues to move forward, bringing creative Yoga to Simi Valley and connecting to the community with open arms and hearts. Thank you for your support — we couldn’t do any of this without you.


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Elise & Thomas McMasters

There are just a couple days left until our 3-day Yoga Source conference kicks off, and we couldn’t be more excited! If you haven’t already, take a look at the schedule, pick out your workshops and register online to get a head start.

You can also register at Yoga Nook @ Fifth on Friday, March 11 from 4:30-7 p.m. Then, join us for the Welcome Address from 7-8:30 p.m., where you can mingle with the presenters and enjoy music, wine tasting, singing and chanting in a relaxed atmosphere. (First-come basis, free to all attending the conference.)

Our final presenter Q&A is with Elise and Thomas McMasters, Certified Hanna Somatic Educators who not only work with people, but also horses and dogs. They will be presenting a fun workshop on how to help heal and communicate better with our pets:

Healing Touch for Animals 
Saturday, March 12 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Yoga Nook on Cochran
(Dogs will be present for this workshop.)
Only a few spots left! Sign up today.

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

Our background began in human massage therapies and branched out to include equine and canine massage and bodywork, small and large animal acupuncture, as well as Hanna Somatic Education (HSE) for equine, canine and humans.

Hanna Somatic Education bridges the gap between working on clients and working with clients. The goal of HSE is to teach our clients the exercises necessary to continue their practice at home and in other areas of their lives. HSE continually renews our ability to access and release our muscle potential, allowing us to re-create more efficient and comfortable movement.

Why did you decide to present a workshop on Healing Touch for Animals? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

We are offering a window into the possibilities that Hanna Somatic work brings to our animals, specifically dogs and horses. Somatic Education, massage therapy and acupressure for horse and rider fill a need not addressed by any other type of therapy.

Simple guided release movements allow a horse and rider to experience the renewed ability to access muscle potential, creating a synergy of strength and balance. This results in the possibility of smooth, powerful movement with less effort.

Hanna Somatic work for canines, both athletic (such as agility or working dogs) as well as our at-home companions, offers simple movements that may increase a dog’s well-being, comfort and athletic career.

Working with dogs or horses aids in injury recovery and rehabilitation. Most of all, it is a fabulous preventative therapy for injury, the effects of aging, arthritis or any other conditions that affect or pertain to the muscles and soft tissues.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

Somatic work has given us a greater understanding of how our minds work with our bodies. It is through a willing participation in this mind/body collaboration that we are able to refocus our mind to reach and recover muscle potential that otherwise may be unavailable. We can offer our clients simple, effective techniques to help recover from and prevent injury, achieving results that can be astounding.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshop, what would it be? 

Awareness that there is a simple and phenomenally effective way to help preserve not only our health, well-being, physical/athletic abilities, but also that of our animal companions. Having the ability to maintain health and wellness on a daily basis in a way that is pain-free and easily applied in the privacy and ease of your own home is unprecedented, but thoroughly possible and available.

Image credit: Taro the Shiba Inu via Flickr (CC)


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Jo Schillinger & Annika Ihnat

We’re a little more than a week away from our first-ever Yoga Source conference in Simi Valley! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the full line-up of workshops and register online today.

This week, we’re bringing you a new Q&A with Jo Schillinger and Annika Ihnat, who will be presenting a workshop on Sacred Dance to awaken your inner dancer:

Sacred Dance
Saturday, March 12 | 2-3:30 p.m.
Yoga Nook on Cochran

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

Jo: I taught modern, ballet and jazz dance for LAUSD for 25 years. After retiring, I began taking AIM classes and was amazed by the transformation even a single class could achieve. I’ve also found it to be effective for healing. I wish I knew 25 years ago what I know now.

Annika: I trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop and lyrical dance growing up, and danced professionally in film and television for 10 years. Although I enjoyed my time as a professional dancer, I ultimately found myself wanting something more. That’s when I fell in love with yoga and later, AIM somatic education. I am fascinated by how these practices empower us to heal ourselves.

Why did you decide to present a workshop on Sacred Dance? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

Jo: I find there is a strong link between dance and yoga. Early yogis used asanas to prepare for meditation. Early man/woman used dance to transcend and celebrate life. Today we often think of dance as something to watch. If we participate, we must look like someone or something. We have lost the connection to the primal and the sacred.

Annika: Although I’ve been a dancer my whole life, it was only when I began practicing yoga that I gained the self-awareness to move intuitively and express myself freely while dancing. To me, this is what both yoga and sacred dance are about — getting in touch with our bodies and our selves, and moving from that place of awareness. I hope to offer attendees a fun and liberating experience in a safe, open environment.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

Jo: There is an organic way of moving for every body. I think it’s important to make individual accommodations to find safe and expressive methods of movement. I’ve also learned the value of gentle movement and moving efficiently through daily activity.

Annika: I incorporate AIM in every yoga class I teach to help students tune into their internal experience and build a stronger mind-body connection. I think somatic education is useful for anyone who dances, not only to heal injuries and move in more functional ways, but also to get in touch with the deepest parts of ourselves, where authentic self-expression originates.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshop, what would it be? 

Jo: There is a dancer within all of us. What you did when you were four years old is an offering to the Source.

Annika: There is no right or wrong way to dance. There is only your unique expression of your truth in the moment.