It’s Bookworm Month at Yoga Nook!

As autumn approaches, a primal part of us responds to the shortening days. We begin to slow down and ponder indoor activities we can enjoy in the evenings. Why not read some yoga books?

This time last year, I was inspired by the idea of little community libraries. These small book exchanges have popped up in neighborhoods all across the country, and are open to anyone who would like to bring a book or take a book. Some have found homes in old chicken coops; some have built creative and attractive book houses; and I’ve even seen them arranged in old telephone booths.

Several of you have expressed interest in a book exchange at Yoga Nook — a place to bring books with a yoga, philosophy or yoga lifestyle theme that you’ve enjoyed reading. So we have decided to open a space for such an exchange for one calendar month, and see if you enjoy it and use it.

We’re calling our book exchange “Bookworm.” Beginning Saturday, September 17, you may bring books to either Yoga Nook location, browse books that others have left, and take books that you are attracted to as a replacement. Bring a yoga book, take a yoga book. 

Bring your books to class, and be sure to come a little early so you can browse the offerings others have left. Any books remaining after October 17 will be donated to Goodwill.

 

Image credit: Thomas Cizauskas via Flickr (CC)

Beware of Bees

If you’ve spent any time in the Yoga Nook garden, you know how alive it is with bright, beautiful flowers, lizards and birds. It’s also been attracting a lot of honey bees lately. They love the pepper tree and like to drink out of the water fountain. I suspect they also enjoy the peace and quiet. No one disturbs them, and if I accidentally spray them with water while I’m gardening, I always apologize.

Indeed, they love it so much that they’ve decided to move in! You see, there is a feral cat that has lived here since before the Nook took up residence. Though I don’t feed her, concerned for her comfort through the cold winter months, I made her a warm place to sleep out of an old Styrofoam cooler and dry straw. She doesn’t use it in the summer and the bees, always on the lookout for a dark, dry, cool place to build a hive, have taken advantage of the vacancy.

Sweet Rewards

Making honey is a highly labor-intensive job. The bees may travel up to 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers just to gather enough nectar to produce one pound of honey. The flavor and color of honey reflects the nectar source, and there are over 300 unique kinds in the United States. Clover, eucalyptus and orange blossom are among the more common.

More than just nature’s sweetener, honey also contains antioxidants. As a general rule, the darker honeys have higher mineral and antioxidant potential. Composed of simple sugars, glucose, fructose and water that is predigested by the bees, honey also contains trace enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. As the simple sugars are quickly absorbed by the human digestive system they have an overall soothing effect, providing a healthful pick-me-up.

There are many health benefits to including honey in your diet. It relieves indigestion, promotes rejuvenating sleep, replenishes energy and dissolves mucus. When applied externally to the skin, it can disinfect and heal minor wounds and is great for chapped lips.

4 Helpful Honey Tips

  1. Mix a few tablespoons honey with a couple drops of lavender oil, and drop it in your bath water to help relax and combat insomnia.
  2. Do you have an old jar of honey somewhere in the refrigerator door that has crystallized? You can restore its syrupy consistency by removing the lid and standing the jar in some warm water until the crystals dissolve.
  3. Look for honey that has been produced by beekeepers who do not feed their bees refined sugars, and seek out organically produced honey.
  4. Remember never to feed honey to infants under one year old. It contains a bacteria that can be very harmful to them, though adults and older children are immune.

As for the nest in the garden, we’ll keep the doors closed for now while I search for someone who will give them a new home. Any takers?

 

Image credit: Claire Andre via Flickr (CC)

One Path to the Center

This last weekend, I spent a day at the beach with the Yoga Nook advanced teacher training group. The weather was cool and overcast when we arrived with shovels, gloves and tamping tools. Soon all of us were digging in the sand. As we worked, beachgoers walked by and asked what we were building. Some tried to guess, though no one was successful.

We were building a labyrinth, which is frequently confused with a maze, though they are quite different. A maze is a puzzle to be solved — which way will take me to the center? It has blind alleys, twists and turns, and requires one who enters to make choices at intersections. A labyrinth, on the other hand, is unicursal, meaning there is only one way in and one way out.

The labyrinthine pattern has been found on Greek coins dating back to 430 BCE, and the Romans reproduced many one-path patterns in tile and mosaic. By 1000 CE, labyrinths had begun to appear on the walls and floors of churches, providing a tool for private prayer and connection to the divine.

Walking a labyrinth is meditative and profound. The path is deceivingly long and seems to take you right into the center at first, then veers away, spiraling you outwards to explore the periphery.

The changes in direction require steady focus, and the outside world drops away as you concentrate on the task at hand. Just when you think you are furthest from the center, you are really closest to it; so coming into center is a surprise, almost unexpected.

We collected feathers, rocks and driftwood to decorate and define our project, and each person had an opportunity to walk the path several times. Then we left it in the sand for anyone to enjoy, and for the elements to reclaim — a wonderful practice in non-attachment.

 

Chakras on the Brain

I have a confession to make. I love brains! In my work as a somatic educator, I work with brains every day, and I’m always amazed at how they problem-solve, create and strategize.

Frequently clients laugh as I help them first recognize, then reeducate a deeply held pattern of movement. Sometimes the brain is so invested in a pattern, it takes awhile before it will let go of the habit. I have often felt emotional when we finally get a breakthrough and the pattern begins to change to make movement more comfortable and functional.

The chakras, taken together, are a philosophical tool to help us understand how we live in the world and how to balance ourselves. Through my research on brain function, I was inspired to investigate where the qualities of the chakras would be located if they were projected onto the brain.

I wondered if we could access those brain areas through visualization, movement and working with partners. Clearly we would need more time than a regular class would allow, so I created a workshop format for this interesting and informative journey, “Chakras on the Brain.”

This workshop is an experiential journey into your brain, helping you connect with different areas that govern emotion, movement, imagination, compassion and proprioception. A short lecture will give you some background about chakras and a comparison between the traditional view and this new and unique approach.

A large portion of the workshop is movement- and breath-oriented, but the pace is easy and gentle like an AIM class. It’s about your personal experience, so it will be very relaxing as well as informative.

I hope you can join me.

Chakras on the Brain Workshop
Saturday, July 23
11am – 4:30pm (30 min. break for lunch)
Yoga Nook @ Fifth
690 D Los Angeles Ave.
Simi Valley, CA 93065
$69

 

Becoming Judith Lasater

It was September 2010. My cell phone rang, and because hardly anyone had that number, the ring was urgent and a little ominous.

It was Judith. “Is this a good time for you?”

I could tell by her anxious tone that this was not a social call. Last night her daughter-in-law had given birth to a baby boy, but he was six weeks early. Her concern was palpable, threaded with understandable excitement for the early arrival of her first grandchild and a desire to be with her family.

“So I’m not coming to Colorado,” she said.

I felt my stomach lurch. We were scheduled to travel to the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park the following day, where I was assisting her in a busy schedule of workshops and intensives.

There was a moment of complete silence, rich with infinite possibility. A million scenarios played simultaneously in my mind, and then I heard a voice very much like my own say, “I would be happy to cover your classes for you.”

Quite suddenly, I seemed to be standing in my kitchen staring at the phone in my hand and wondering if I had really just said to Judith Lasater that I would be her “sub” at the 15th Annual Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference.

At that time, I had worked with Judith on and off for several years, supporting her work whenever I could. I relished the simple pleasure of watching a master teacher open students’ minds, and trying to intuit what prop or support she would need to illustrate her teaching.

How, I wondered, would I ever be able to fill her shoes and give her students the full Judith experience they’d signed up for? The simple answer, of course, was that I needed to be me, not try and be Judith, because there is only one Judith Lasater.

I worked through my anxiety and did my very best to provide a balanced, creative and honest series of workshops. It was educational time for me, both identifying my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.

It’s always disappointing when you show up for a class and expect a particular teacher, only to discover that life has gotten in the way and that person is unable to attend. Be assured that it’s never easy as a teacher to give up classes or change schedules. We become dedicated to the students we serve, but sometimes there is a more pressing need.

As summer progresses and we shift and change teachers to adjust for vacations, different kid schedules and illness, remember the job of the teacher in front of the class is to offer you an opportunity to grow. Her challenge is that she is not who you were expecting. Your challenge is: Can you be open to what she has to offer even though she’s not Judith Lasater?

 

Image credit: Ulrich Burkhalter via Flickr (CC)

Retreat with Us in Ojai!

If you’re like most people, you probably spend much of your time making sure everything in your external world is taken care of — from work projects to family responsibilities, housework and essential errands. But how much time do you dedicate to your inner life?

If your answer is “not enough,” we invite you to retreat with us this Saturday, June 4 in beautiful Ojai, CA. In this fun and relaxing day retreat at Krishnamurti Foundation of America, we’ll go “beyond the poses” to explore and experience the foundations of Yoga.

Beyond the Poses retreat

There are just a few days left to sign up! Register in person at either Yoga Nook studio, email yoganookcalling@gmail.com, or call (805) 390-8175.

What will you discover beyond the poses? 

 

Beyond the Poses: A Day-Long Retreat in Ojai

What comes to mind when you think of a retreat? Most likely you imagine some sort of getaway, perhaps on a pristine beach far from home or in a cozy cabin tucked away in the mountains. Indeed, one definition of retreat is “an act of moving back or withdrawing” — stepping away from your regular routine and withdrawing to a quiet place.

On the other hand, a retreat can also be a catalyst that helps us move forward and step into the qualities or ways of being we want to cultivate, but that we sometimes lose touch with in the midst of our habitual cycles. In doing something different and learning something new, we’re able to see things with a fresh perspective. A seed of growth is planted.

In the words of the philosopher, speaker and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986):

It is essential sometimes to go into retreat, to stop everything that you have been doing, to stop your experiences completely and look at them anew, not keep on repeating them like machines. You would then let fresh air into your mind. Wouldn’t you? This place must be of great beauty with trees, birds, and quietness, for beauty is truth and truth is goodness and love.

In every sense of the word, the Krishnamurti Center in Ojai is an ideal place to retreat. Every year the emerging teachers in the Yoga Nook 200-hour teacher training visit the Krishnamurti Center to explore the library, gardens and educational center — which features talks and interviews with J. Krishnamurti on universal themes like conflict, fear, education, truth and meditation.

Krishnamurti Library
Krishnamurti Library

On Saturday, June 4, Yoga Nook will host Beyond the Poses, a day-long retreat in the Krishnamurti Center’s Pepper Tree Pavilion, overlooking the Ojai Valley and on-site gardens. The teachers in Yoga Nook’s current 300-hour teacher training (Jo, Kim G., Annika, Kim S., Tami and Pati) will lead fun and relaxing workshops with themes surrounding the 8 Limbs of Yoga, or the eight-fold path.

pepper tree pavilion
Pepper Tree Pavilion at the Krishnamurti Center

Net proceeds from the event will benefit The Gentle Barn, a Santa Clarita nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates severely abused animals, and facilitates interaction with the animals to teach kids about kindness and compassion.

Beyond the Poses: An Exploration of the 8 Limbs of Yoga
Cost: $95*
Saturday, June 4, 2016
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (registration at 9:30 a.m.)
Krishnamurti Center
1098 McAndrew Rd.
Ojai, CA 93023

*Includes lunch, snacks, beverages and gift bags

Space is limited. Register today in-person at Yoga Nook, email yoganookcalling@gmail.com or call (805) 390-8175 to reserve your spot. You can also RSVP on our Facebook page.

 

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.