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Summer is in full swing! And not only is it hot (and humid), but everyone’s routines have shifted. We are the stewards of a 10-acre farm in central Virginia, so we are outside as much as possible, planting and harvesting fruit, flowers and herbal medicine. The change in seasons affects different people differently. Some people enjoy heat more than others. You will find me under shade and out of the sun between 10 - 2pm, but my husband LOVES doing work outside during the heat of the day. Summertime is an opportunity to pay attention to the heat and what affect it has on you.
The spring is a powerful time of year. We watch in awe as green sprouts out of the ground and buds burst on spring-blooming trees. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spring is governed by the Liver and Gallbladder. The Liver is our decision maker. If the Liver is not functioning well, we lack the ability to make clear decisions. In TCM, the eyes are the external organ of the Liver, so we might encounter vision problems, if our Liver is out of order. The Liver is not only related to our physical vision, but also our metaphorical vision. When someone has difficulty envisioning the future or has no vision for her life, we look to the Liver to bring about change.
What a year it is has been! On SO many levels. I have so much to write about and yet so much is still percolating. One item that I do want to mention is that this year marks the 20th year since I started practicing Iyengar Yoga! I lucked into a 5 day workshop during my travels in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A friend recommended the course as I had already been practicing yoga on my own, with books and classes at the Y in college. Even though no one else signed up for the Intermediate course that week, the teacher taught me privately for 5 hours per day! It was such an incredible gift!
We just passed through the first New Moon of the New Year. New Moons are always potent times to set intentions, but particularly the first New Moon of the New Year. This past year felt particularly destabilizing and I have absolutely cherished my yoga practice, as it keeps me steady, clear and grounded in the present. I pay fairly close attention to what is going on around me, but as a yoga practitioner, one of the disciplines of the practice is to not get pulled into the drama - the ups and downs of everyday human existence.
In the yoga sutras, Patanjali talks about effortless effort - "Perfection in an asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless and the infinite being within is reached." - Light on the Yoga Sutras, BKS Iyengar Perfection is connected to the metal element present at the end of this season - the need to be perfect, valuing oneself, the need to have shiny material possessions and conversely, the exact opposite - not valuing oneself or not believing oneself worthy of respect. It is something well worth examining as we close out this year.
Dear Friends, As we mentioned last month, we are in the season of the Lungs and Large Intestine. It is the time of year to whittle, to hone, and to refine. These are two of our organs of letting go. I am finding time this week to reflect on what I was able to accomplish this year and letting go of what's left. It is a time of resetting and putting things to rest.
"Grief, expressed out loud, whether in or out of character, unchoreographed and honest, for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.” - Martin Prectel
I have to admit, I was dragging my feet on sharing a monthly newsletter, which we have done monthly since we launched over a dozen years ago! It happens sometimes, writer's block sets in, and in my experience, I just have to push through it. To be honest to some degree, I have not felt much like sharing on social media at all since the pandemic started. Mostly, because everything feels so uncomfortable, unusual & unsettled during this time.
We are so lucky to have our yoga practice particularly during times of change. One of the ways we remain grounded is by adherence to the Yamas and Niyamas, one of which is Svadhyaya or self study but also includes the study of spiritual texts. I recently began re-reading the Bhagavad Gita during a particularly tumultuous time with my family. The first chapter of the book introduces us to the protagonist, Arjuna, who must go into battle with his family.
Finally, in February, we welcome the return of the light with Candlemas on Feb 1 - the midway point between the Winter Solstice & the Spring Equinox. You may have noticed an increase in energy as the days become lighter and lighter. Hopefully, you have spent some time in reflection and are starting to feel the call to begin to plant seeds to grow your vision for the New Year. And it's ok to move slowly, like the Groundhog, and return to your Winter's nest for a few more weeks.
We have entered my most favorite time of year. Earth is the name that the Chinese give to the energy of late summer. Earth is the time of harvest and gathering. It is the midpoint in the cycle of life. The time when we raise a family, create a body of work, settle down, and begin to reap the rewards of our labors. Our thoughts turn to nurturing, parenting, mentoring and mothering. Earth governs our bodies, our flesh and our ability to nourish ourselves through the foods that we eat. Earth governs our cycles - sleeping, eating and breathing. Earth energy also helps us on a mental level to digest ideas, process experiences and form thoughts. Out of balance Earth can be obsessive, obstinate and stubborn.
Dear Friends, As the sun shifts into Virgo and the late summer's earth element, we are enjoying the fruits of our labors along with the slowing & cooling down of summer. The earth element brings us stability and a space to pause and collect ourselves between the seasons. The calm and steadiness of earth helps prepare us for the shifting unsteadiness of the air element which visits us in the fall. I love this time of year! The weather is a perfect mix of warm days and cool nights. AND September is National Yoga Month! This is a wonderful time of year to get the word out about the benefits of yoga. Reference our resources below on the benefits of yoga as a place to start your conversation with new students.
Today marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. It's called Lamas and it signals the beginning of the harvest season. We are about to transition into Late Summer as we move beyond the peak of summer. Before we do, take with you the lessons learned from your growth this year. Take some time to honor what you have accomplished before you begin to reap what you have sewn.
I taught a restorative yoga retreat last month where we contemplated the energy of the Ayurvedic constitution made up of Earth and Water, Kapha. We contemplated stability, density, structure, boundaries and flow. We discussed ways to antidote the excess and deficiencies that arise with these elements, which are predominant in the winter and early spring. One of my favorite topics to discuss as a remedy for Winter stagnation is the creation of clear un-obstructed space. This time of year is ideal for space clearing of any kind. As a Virgo and a Pitta Kapha, this brings me joy.
Teaching Yoga to Seniors: Essential Considerations to Enhance Safety and Reduce Risk in a Uniquely Vulnerable Age Group
Seniors age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing sector of the population and, like many Americans, are increasingly drawn to yoga. This presents both an extraordinary opportunity and a serious challenge for yoga instructors who must be both a resource and guardians of safety for this uniquely vulnerable group. A typical class of seniors is likely to represent the most diverse mix of abilities of any age group. While some may be exceedingly healthy, most fit the profile of the average older adult in America, 80% of whom have at least one chronic health condition and 50% of whom have at least two.
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