Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Solstice Crystal Bowl Concert Event

Please come to a Winter Solstice Celebration to Clear the 7 Chakras with a Crystal Bowl Concert by Rahbi Crawford tomorrow night from 6-8 pm at the Tapestry Yoga Center.  We will begin with a dynamic participatory beginning with drums, hand instruments and movement to open up to the New Earth energy of Muladhara (1st) Chakra and then relax in supported restorative yoga postures to balance the 2nd - 5th chakras before coming up for a blissful seated meditation transforming the 6th, 7th (and 8th) chakras.  These crystal bowls are deeply resonant and touch the soul -- so come celebrate this auspicious day with the gift of sound and raise your vibration as we head into the light and into the new year.  No special skill is necessary for this event -- it is a concert with some optional movement and a chance to be super comfortable as you rest in an ocean of sound.

Please come in comfortable clothes for some movement and bring a favorite pillow to relax (though there are many soft props you are welcome to use at the center).  A $10 donation is suggested, but truly, whatever fits your budget or inspiration is welcome.  Just come out and give yourself the gift of spacious wonder on the Winter Solstice 2009.  If you are able, please r.s.v.p., or just come!  Call 608-637-6950 for more information.

Winter Class Session Schedule is Ready! Free Class Week Jan 3rd - 9th.

The Winter Class Session Schedule is all printed and available all around Viroqua.  Join us for Free Class Week the first week of January -- January 3rd - 9th.   Come on out and take some Yoga, Belly Dance, Tai Chi or Nia.  

This session our schedule largely remains the same with some exciting additions.  We welcome Meg Abene Newlin who is teaching two additional classes focusing on flow in the Anusara-style on Monday nights from 4:30-5:45 pm and focusing on form and alignment on Wednesday mornings from 8:30-10am.  Both of these classes welcome healthy practitioners of all levels who are eager for a challenging practice.  She'll also continue her Sunday morning Intermediate Led practice.  

Monte McPheron's  Tai Chi class time is changing slightly to go on Tuesday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm and he is adding a Silk Reeling and Meditation class on Friday mornings from 7-7:30 am which promises to be a great way to start the day.  Jess Leinberger's Belly Dance is moving to Saturday afternoons from 1- 2:30 pm.  

My classes stay largely the same, but I am moving Guided Meditation from Wednesday morning to Saturday morning at 7 am before my 8 am Level 1-2 Yoga Class.  I also have changed the Thursday 6:30 pm class to be Yoga I and am offering a Gentle class from 4:45 - 6:15 pm on Thursdays for people who have special conditions or injuries and want the benefits of yoga in a gentle, supportive environment.  The popular Nia classes with Gayle Nielsen remain the same on Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening.  

The studio has been very cozy recently after some tweaking to the heating system and we look forward to an incredible winter session.  I'm teaching a Winter Survival Strategies Workshop on Saturday, January 24th from 2-5 pm full of tips for surviving the dark, cold winter months in Wisconsin with gems from the yogic tradition.  This is a great time of year to recommit to your health and self-care and Tapestry Yoga Center has much to offer!  Have a great Holiday Season and we'll see you in January!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winter Schedule Coming Soon

We are beginning week 10 of this inaugural session and it is wonderful to be established in the flow of practice and be going deeper into practice.  Soon, I will have the Winter Session schedule ready to publish.  Free Class week is January 3-9th and the 12-week session will run from January 10 - April 3rd!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Almost half-way through the Fall Session

Ladies and Gentleman,
Time is doing its thing and flying by -- we are in the 5th week of classes of the Fall session and the end of next week marks the half-way point in the session.  Be sure to take all of the classes you are signed up for and remember you can even do make-up classes in advance.  You can take any of our classes within this session which goes until December 19th for a total of the number of classes you paid for -- 12 classes for $108 or, if you pro-rated because you signed up late, that's your number.  But once December 19th comes, all class credits expire, so be sure to squeeze all your classes in.  It's fun to check out classes with different teachers.  The only one I would be cautious about dropping into at this point is Belly Dance as they are well on their way to creating a routine building from week to week.

I am back from a fabulous week with my teacher at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. Although, I have a standard yoga training credential, Yoga Alliance 200 Hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher),  I am eagerly preparing to take a much more rigorous certification exam that my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, has put together to synthesize my years of study with him over 21 trainings in the last 8 years.  Completion of his Certification training will then qualify me for the 500 - Hour RYT certification as well.  This Guru Parampara training I just completed (for the second time) is the culmination training of his program and really inspired me as to the essence of yoga and our mission as students and teachers -- yoga is about living more joyfully and purposefully, guided by our connection to the soul -- purusha -- infinite source.   

On another note, I am excited that the African Dancers and Drummers are holding their monthly class at Tapestry tomorrow -- dancing from 10:30 - Noon and drumming from 12:30 - 2 pm.  Susan Nesbit is coordinating this special event (which is not an official Tapestry sponsored event) and it should be super fun -- $10/class or $5/class for students. Call Susan at 606-4566 to register.

And tonite is Halloween.  My kids are eager to get dressed and head off for the VFW PRWS 8th Grade extravaganza followed by a night of trick or treating.  Hope you all enjoy this holiday and all it's child-like joy.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Substitute Update and Yoga Retreat`

First of all, thanks to everyone who came out to Tapestry's very first workshop on Sunday:  A 3-Hour Complete Practice.  Finally, there was enough time to do everything on my list -- 2 hours of asana, 10 minutes of meditation; 20 minutes of savasana and 40 minutes of pranayama and more meditation.  It was an absolutely glorious day outside, the studio looked fantastic in the Fall light with a radiant tree outside the window and 9 beautiful souls came out to go deeply inside and touch in with their resplendent nature.  Thank you all.  We'll do these complete practices at least quarterly.

In just a few hours I leave for the airport to study again with my dear teacher and his teacher at the Himalayan Institute in PA (  I TRUST that all will go well while I am away both at TYC and at home where my dear mother-in-law has flown in to help with my kids this week -- God Bless her.  All my classes this week have wonderful teachers lined up to share their wisdom -- Adley Bertsch will sub my Yoga 1/2 and Gentle Classes; Meg Newlin will sub Yoga I; and Monte McPheron will lead the Wednesday morning meditation.  Thanks to each of them for offering to step in for me this week -- I am truly grateful. 

Blessings to everyone and I look forward to coming back to Viroqua completely energized, inspired and renewed by this week in retreat and deep study.  Much love!
Hari Om,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Studio Schedule Update and Some Subs Next Week

Things are running smoothly a few weeks into the Fall Session.  Most of the classes are growing adding a student or two each week and we are pro-rating classes for the session.  Also, enrolled students who want to take extra classes can do so for just $9 per class (versus the $12 rate for un-enrolled students to drop-in).  

Next week, I am traveling to a very special training with my Yoga teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker. The event is called Guru Parampara and is a remarkable opportunity to move more deeply into the teachings through his guidance -- here is a link that describes it more:

Parampara literally means "from one to another" so it is an initiation of prepared students to more deeply step into the teachings of this ancient lineage.  Very few teachers in this country have a direct lineage to a living master, so it is with a big sense of humility and enthusiasm that I accept this invitation to what will surely be an extraordinary week.  

A lovely young woman who grew up in this area, Adley Bertsch is going to sub my yoga classes and Monte McPheron will lead the Wednesday morning meditation class.

I'll post more soon.  Thanks to everyone for coming out to Tapestry!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Heading into Week 2!

Already it is feeling like we're settling into a good routine at the TYC as we head into the 2nd week of regular classes.  All the classes on the schedule are running except for two:  we are canceling Jon Passi's Monday night class due to low enrollment and also the Nia for Kids which we inadvertently scheduled opposite the popular gymnastics program downstairs.  Watch out for future Kids' Workshops in Nia since the gang who came out really had a terrific time during free-class week.  All the other classes on the schedule are definitely running, though it would be great to boost enrollment in all the classes.  

Classes can be pro-rated to enroll for the remaining 11 weeks for $99 and drop-ins for $12/class are very welcome.  Also, it is a great time to come out if you are new as we are teaching sequentially over the course of the semester and are starting at the beginning in all our classes and building on what we teach each week -- not to be missed!

Thank so very much to everyone who has enrolled for the Fall Session -- we are off to a terrific start establishing a true center for yoga, tai chi, belly dance and nia in Viroqua.

Monday, September 28, 2009

First Regular Week of Classes

Wow!  Free class week was awesome.  Having gone to pretty much all 15 classes, I am really thrilled by the turnout and thank everyone who came.  Lots of people are signing up and when we see what sign-ups look like this week we'll know for sure which classes will run.  Most of them will, so come out again, sign up and let's have a terrific inaugural session.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Belly Dance Class Rocked Out!

So Jess Leinberger's Belly Dance class is going to be TOTALLY fun -- what a fun group of people came out for it and many of them are signing up.  Jess has a great plan for this session to really teach the basics (she totally had us dancing and doing the moves tonite) and then she has plans for a costume night, a live drummer night, dancer friends coming in to help out and a plan to choreograph a group dance.  She and her friend demo'd some great dancing at the end and we were all smiling and laughing and talking loudly in the hall afterwards --- all hallmarks of a great class.  By all means, if you are thinking this sounds like fun, definitely join us!  There's room for some extras to join this very solid and fun-loving group of beginners. 

10 minutes after Belly Dance class ended, the next class of the night was taking shape -- Monte's Tai Chi class turns down the overhead lights and moves into totally mellow mode.  Monte knows his subject super-well and keeps a good eye on everyone in the room making excellent adjustments, giving gentle reminders, paying attention to the basics with a great pace to keep it engaging.  There's a solid group that can welcome a few more budding enthusiasts.  Truly, it was a pleasure to try Tai Chi for the first time and I highly recommend Monte.

Tomorrow morning at 6:00 am, join me for Guided Meditation!  Look forward to it. Blessings!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kathy's Yoga I-2 (Adv Beg) Class Session Syllabus

Yoga 1-2 Class Syllabus                                                 Instructor: Kathy O’Rourke

Tuesday 8:30-10 am & Saturdays 8 – 9:30 am

Fall Session: Vinyasa Krama-Wise Progression & the Science of Energy Management

There are 6 different sequences of poses in the style of yoga that I study with my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker of Para Yoga.  Each sequence has a distinctive energetic tone:  Forward Bends, Back Bends, Laterals, Twists, Extensions and Inversions.  This session we’ll explore the energetic goals and outcomes of each type of sequence focusing 2 weeks on each one to cohesively shift the energy of the body in a specific way. It's a great chance to be a scientist and make note of the affects of each practice and reflect on what sequence enhances your day in a particularly dynamic way.

Yoga is an energy management system and I’ll teach you about the 5 Major Vayus that direct energy in the body:  Apana, Udana, Pran, Vyan, and Samana.  Each of the 6 Sequences relate uniquely to the 5 Vayus.  You’ll gain insight into how to shape a personal practice that is in sync with your prakritti – your unique balance of elements and energies.

In Tantra Yoga, we strive to be very efficient in our pursuit of mimamsa (liberation).  Yoga is about connecting with your true Self and being balanced and steady in your life and in your breath.  The tools to get there are energy mastery and witness consciousness so that you can see that you are a spiritual being having a human experience in every moment.


In Yoga 1-2, I assume you have the yoga basics and are ready to go to the next level in your practice and wish to gain a deeper understanding of yoga as a spiritual science.  We’ll focus this session on refining foundational poses and smooth out transitions from one pose to the next.  In terms of asana, I’ll incorporate more challenging poses into weekly classes which will move toward an Intermediate practice level such as the “S” series Sun Salute; balancing poses including ardha chandrasana (half-moon pose), virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3) and utthita padangusthasana (standing hand to toe pose); and inversions such as full-arm balance “L” pose at the wall. 

Beyond asana, each week we will incorporate pranayama (breath techniques), bandhas (energy locks), visualizations, and meditations into every class.

The pace this session will be faster than in the past.  We will begin with a short centering breath and a mantra from the yogic tradition and step right into practice.  During holds and resting moments, I will elaborate on the thematic focus of each class.  In this way, we’ll have time to properly integrate the practice at the end in Savasana and then enjoy the fruits of the practice during meditation at the end.  I look forward to a rich and rewarding session with each of you!

Reflections on a Great First Monday

We are really filling this new space with lots of good energy --- 10 people came out to Gayle's 12 Noon Nia class and we really got to rock out and groove to some great tunes and be in our bodies in a very fun way.  If you missed it, there's a second class this week on Wednesday afternoon at 3:15 for kids (7-11) and grown-ups from 4:30-5:30.  Nia is really fun and Gayle is a sweet teacher so it's well worth it!

And tonite, Jon Passi taught a cool class that reminded us of the whole point of yoga -- to remember that we're all One with readings by the great Eckhardt Tolle. 

Tomorrow morning, I teach for the first time in Room 203 and I have a great class session planned to convey the science of sequencing asana and incorporating it into our personal practice to bring steadiness and ease to our days.  The asanas you choose shape your energy -- just as food does, or friends do.  So, come out and explore this powerful ancient knowledge and integrate it into your life.  Tomorrow is Yoga 1/2 at 8:30 am for people ready to move beyond yoga basics that is the focus of Yoga I.

Also, tomorrow, check out Belly Dancing at 5:00 with Jess Leinberger and Tai Chi at 6:45 with Monte McPheron.  See you there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tapestry Yoga is Open for Business!

Today is the BIG Day and Tapestry Yoga Center opens its doors in just a few hours for Meg Newlin's Intermediate Led Practice at 7:00 am!  

The space is gorgeous -- it is arguably the nicest space in the Landmark thanks to the very hard work of my amazing husband, Matt Shortridge and much help from our friend, Jim Farrell.  Monica Woody and I picked out the colors and it has all come together to create a very lovely and inviting space.  I will post pictures very soon!  

All the props are unpacked and the floors are shiny -- just inviting you to roll out your mat or take your place to move in the room.  

Also tomorow, One Spirit Rising Interfaith group is meeting from 10:30 - Noon led by Diane Banner.  

Thanks to everyone for all their support and work in getting this place together.  It is very exciting and I look forward to welcoming you out to a week of free classes!  

Much love and many blessings.  May this endeavor be fruitful and touch the hearts of all who seek a connection to source.

Hari Om!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tapestry Yoga Center Website is Up and Running

Today is my birthday (celebrating 42 years!) and at 3:00 a.m. today my website went live on the world wide web ---!  I just love the universe and how these things coincided.  Launching the Tapestry website (with an amazingly full and awesome schedule of classes and teachers) has been a lot like giving birth -- there have been days in the creation of the advertising that I've felt like I'm in "transition" the most intense and overwhelming phase of labor that immediately precedes pushing a baby out into the world -- if you've been through it, you will always remember it!  SO, it is with tremendous relief and a bit of bliss that today I am passing out brochures at the farmer's market and excitedly encouraging everyone to check out the website for a complete schedule of classes!

Just two weeks from tomorrow, FREE CLASS WEEK begins (Sept 20-26th) with Meg Newlin's Intermediate Led class on Sunday morning.  This week, the studio renovation phase is taking center-stage  with help tomorrow morning from Jim and Betsy Farrell (and any other volunteers).  There's much to clean and much to paint, so if you are inclined to do either one, I totally welcome your help--tomorrow or any other day this week.  Also, if you have any beautiful fabrics (including silks to cover the lights) or decorative items to offer to the space, they are also very welcome.  

Tell everyone you know to come check out what we're offering.  I have some great rack cards (brochures) -- 350 of them -- and could use help getting them into the hands of Viroquans.  My vision is 15 full classes the week of September 20th.

There are many people to thank for help so far -- Geri Shonka for design, Teo of Zumavi Design for the website (he's the one who was up at 3 am today), Anne O'Connor for editing help, Vicky Ramsay and Monica Woody for studio design and Dairyland Printing.  Thank you to my students who have supported this enterprise with their tremendous enthusiasm and also to my teachers, especially Suzie Hurley of Willow Street Yoga whose center is the template for TYC and also thanks to my spiritual guide, Yogarupa Rod Styker who ignited a spark within me to fulfill my dharma -- living purposefully, fearlessly and joyfully.  Truly this undertaking is fully supported and empowered by the teachings of the yoga tradition.

Fifteen days to lift-off!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fall Schedule Almost Here!

Hello Everyone,

I have been hard at work getting ready to launch the Tapestry Yoga Center in Room 203 of the Landmark Center -- a fantastic 924 sq ft space where I will offer 5 classes a week and 5 other teachers are joining me to offer classes of their own in Nia, Belly Dance, Tai Chi, Sivananda Yoga and a Vinyasa Yoga Class.  It is an exciting line-up and it almost ready to be published!   

It has been quite a summer full, Full, FULL of travel and visitors.  This all adds up to Vata challenges -- way too much movement, transition and change.  I have one more week of company hosting my very good friend, Felice, from Maryland and her two kids.  She'll be here just in time to help me get my new yoga studio cleaned and to begin the transformation of Room 203 a into a beautiful inviting space.  I am so looking forward to getting into the space which will be cleared out this Sunday, August 23rd and creating a yoga sanctuary not just for ME, but for everyone else who is also calling out for a yoga home to ground their practice and rhythmically move deep into understanding of Self and yogic philosophy.   

I welcome lots of help in getting this studio pulled together before Free Class Week the week of September 20th which is our grand opening.  There's much to clean, paint, build out and decorate.  If you feel inspired to volunteer in an effort to build this yoga community space, please email me.  My husband/carpenter/tech wizard, Matt is psyched to pitch in as is Vicky Ramsay, Sam Ramsay, Paul Fairchild and some friends from One Spirit Rising (which is going to start meeting in the space every other Sunday morning starting on 9/13).  Please join us :-).

I miss you all and so look forward to teaching again in one month.  I have been rebooting my personal practice (which tends to suffer when I'm on the road with my kids or have a house full of company which has been about 75% of this summer).  Thanks to Anne O'Connor for getting up at 6 am the last 5 days and practicing two hours together.  There's nothing like good company to inspire you to wake up with the birds to salute the sun.  Hari om.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Class 4th of July and New Studio Announcement

Hello everyone,
As I've announced in class, I am not teaching class this Saturday morning, July 4th.  For those of you who were planning on coming and are enrolled in the session -- will you please email me back to let me know you were counting on that class running as a make-up or your regular class?  I will put you down for a credit when I receive your email  I also cancelled class July 6th and have that as a credit for all of you enrolled in the Saturday class.   I appreciate your understanding and flexibility -- this family commitment arose after I scheduled the classes for the summer.

This marks the last of the scheduled summer classes and probably the last classes in the studio I have been renting from Carol Anne Kemen.

Starting in September, I am launching my own yoga studio on the second floor of the Landmark Center in room 203 which is easily twice as big as the space I have been teaching in. Beginning the week of September 20th, I expect to have a week of free classes offered by me and other local teachers to introduce a 12-week session of classes through December 19th.  It is an exciting light-filled space with great floors and tremendous potential.  I will be offering 5 classes and expanding my offerings to include a Beginner's Yoga I Class,  Yoga 2 (which will be like my current Tuesday and Saturday class with more focus on backbends and inversions which I will systematically teach), a Gentle/Therapeutics Class, and Yoga Nidra.  I also plan to offer some Saturday workshops to more deeply introduce meditation and pranayama as part of a complete yoga practice.  All my classes will have a 10-15 minute meditation/pranayama piece at the end so that the deeper essence of yoga is offered in every class.  To that end, I'll shorten the opening centering and get you moving within 5 minutes of the class start time.

I am eager to offer a deeper experiential range of yoga and opportunities to explore the full scope of yogic philosophy with more course offerings, workshops, and even a monthly book club.  This is a great time to suggest other class TIMES -- your suggestions, feedback, insights are all very welcome.  This past 8 months of teaching has been an extraordinary learning experience and I am always eager to improve your class experience.  If you feel inspired to feedback on the quality of your Tapestry Yoga experience with a quick email, I'd deeply appreciate it  - there's lots of room to improve and this would be a great time for me to hear it.

Other classes that will be offered in this space are Tai Chi, Nia, Yoga classes from other teachers and traditions and perhaps Akito, Belly Dance and African Dance -- I welcome teachers who are eager to teach -- pass the word.  I will be publishing a newsletter in August with the full class schedule, so any ideas should come forward in July/early August.  Please let me know if you have any class ideas.  I have a business model that is very teacher-friendly to attract a dynamic, talented teacher base.  Let me know if you want to teach something or have a suggestion of someone who might.

There's much to say on all this.  I will be taking my certification exam in Para Yoga in August and September to complete and integrate my 8-years of study with my guru, Yogarupa Rod Stryker.  This is an intense  3 week take home exam -- open book -- but it involves about 30 books and notes from 17 trainings.  It is like completing a master's degree and will be a powerful way to integrate my understanding and practice and promises to take my teaching to a whole new level.

There is a lot to do to transform one of these Landmark rooms into a space clean and energetically clear for yoga -- your talents and suggestion; artistry and vision are all very welcome. I'll begin the lease September 1 and will be focused on renovating the space for 3 solid weeks. If you want to help out -- please let me know.

Enjoy the rest of your summer -- i look forward to seeing you in September.  I may offer a class or two just to keep people moving yoga-wise.  If I do, I'll send out a general announcement and will also post occasionally here on my blog.

Blessings to you all and thank you all for supporting this endeavor -- truly it is my soul's path and there is nothing more joyous than lining up with one's dharma.  And there is no being a 'yoga teacher' without yoga students.  So, I extend my most heartfelt gratitude to each of you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Great Weekend in Chicago

WOW!  Just came back from a really extraordinary weekend with my guru, Yogarupa Rod Stryker.  I have been studying with Rod since February 2002 when my son Truman was one-year old -- I first went to one of his workshops because my local yoga teacher, Suzie Hurley, strongly suggested that those of us starting her teacher training should take advantage of his coming through our area.  My first weekend was overwhelming, but deeply touching.  I wish in hindsight that I had actually had more experience in yoga before I took his class -- I was new enough to it that I just figured his workshop was just what all weekend workshops felt like -- deep, powerful, multi-faceted journeys to deep meditation.  It was the first time I had ever meditated and it was brilliant.  This past weekend -- my 17th Rod Stryker Workshop - was brilliant, too.

I could write a 10 page blog on my whole life since and how connected it is to my study with this master-teacher.  Tonite my primary goal is to prepare for class tomorrow, so I better not start writing that history right now.  But, I can't resist taking a few minutes to share highlights from this past weekend.

I put the word out in my classes and to just about anyone else I encountered in my life who might be interested that I was traveling to Chicago June 5-7 for a weekend workshop in Hinsdale with Rod -- want to come?  Right away, Anne O'Connor volunteered to drive (she's a mighty driver) -- this is her second Stryker workshop having gone up to Minneapolis for a weekend workshop in March where we had a great time.  And two others signed up --inspired to explore the deeper teachings of yoga that Rod masterfully teaches -- Geri Shonka and Jessica Hooper.  So, four of us headed off to Chicago at 8 am on Friday for a classic women's away weekend road trip -- complete with a very long stop at Whole Paycheck -- I mean Whole Foods in Madison.  

There's so much to say -- it was silly, warm, interesting, honest and deeply reflective conversation.  It was a total act of courage and faith for Geri and Jessica to commit to so much time with a new teacher.  And truly, the practices and the science of Tantra Yoga touched our hearts and opened us to a great remembrance of our source.  

I feel inspired to share more of the practices and teachings I have learned from Rod and am in the midst of moving closer to completing his teacher training program -- I have several book reports to complete and soon I will sit for a 15-day honor system take home exam to integrate all of my studies with him over the last 8 years.   It's my hope to be recognized officially as one of his initiated dedicated teachers within this year.  

Truly, yoga touches my heart and gives me a direct experience of the divine in my life in meditation and through every encounter.   I am more inspired than ever and eager to share this powerful science of going inside to know our fullest capacity for joy and expression.  

Friday, June 5, 2009

No Class This Saturday June 6th

Class this Saturday, June 6th is cancelled so that I can attend a weekend workshop in Chicago with my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker.  I had hoped to find a sub for this class, but that proved harder than I expected.  I also simply forgot to let you know last week of my plans and held out hope all week of finding a substitute.  Alas, I am on the eve of my trip spreading the word and sincerely hoping no one arrives at the doors to room 105 early on Saturday to a note on the door saying "Class is Cancelled".

Apologies for the last minute notice.  I look forward to coming back renewed and energized and will be in class on Tuesday.  All other classes this session through July 4th are scheduled to run with me teaching them as scheduled.

Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer Session: May 26 - July 4th -- 6 Weeks

Here we go again!  Summer Session May 26th - July 4th. 6 Great Weeks of Yoga going deeper into the Gunas, the 7 Chakras and into a related concept called the Prana Vayus as we progress through June.  I hope you will join me.

I'm making a slight adjustment to how I am pricing my classes that reflects the commitment and support of those who sign up for the whole session, which is really the backbone of my being able to offer 3 regular weekly classes.  The best price per class goes to those who sign up for the whole session (6 classes) at $9/class for a total of $54.  The next best price is $10/class for those who buy up to 5 classes good through 7/4 (paying in advance).  And finally, for those who spontaneously heed the last minute call to come to class -- the new price is $12 to drop-in.

I hope you'll join me! I am traveling to Chicago to study with my teacher the weekend of June 5-7 and am hoping to line up a substitute for the 6/6 Saturday class.  (Let me know if you want to come study with me and 2 other students that weekend with Rod Stryker -- see www. Otherwise, I am around through July 4th.  After that I'll be back in DC (where I moved from 2 years ago) to visit family and friends for 2 weeks and then back to Viroqua for the rest of the summer -- perhaps a limited teaching schedule based on interest and then a full-fledged return to Yoga with more class times in the Fall.

Look forward to another great series of practices.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Great Spring Session

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Spring Yoga Session.  It was a dynamic 2 months -- yes, 8 weeks, imagine that!  What a journey up through the chakras touching into the different energies that we encounter as we do asanas and breath work that attune us to each energy center.

Stability is KEY to asana practice.  Cultivating a connection to the steady center is a pre-requisite to going more deeply into practice.  Through the practice of yoga we expand our energy, our capacity, our power in the world.  If we are out of balance -- lacking in stability, the steady center -- and we activate more power, we'll be more powerfully out-of-balance.  Yikes. No thanks.  

So, from the outset and throughout the session we worked with a balancing steady breath, moved in concert with the breath, grew in relationship with the breath.  The breath is simply the gateway to mindfulness, to awareness, to center, to connection to source.  From this place of stability, the practice of yoga empowers us in our bodies and our minds -- building strength, vitality, flexibility and clarity.  

But despite steps to balance prana through mindful breathing, you still may have experienced in an energy center (a chakra) an inherent, long-standing lack of balance as we progressed through the session -- if an area was holding an imbalance, a lack of awareness, or a stuckness --  and we spent 90 minutes activating it, something was bound to release, move, shift.  Several times through the session, I noticed things happening in my life outside of class and sure enough I could relate them to what I was doing in my practice that paralleled our classes.  For instance, I survived the whole winter without a cough, but as we moved through 5th chakra and the energy around 6th (which are connected), a weakness presented itself physically in this area of speech, speaking truth, showing up in the world on my own terms -- areas I've struggled with for this whole lifetime.  I found myself speaking very frankly and somewhat unapologetically -- spontaneous, clear truths straight out of my inner world that I typically keep inside for the sake of diplomacy.  But especially during the 5th/6th chakra weeks, the clarity of the inside demanded a platform and to be heard.  Bringing power to these areas brought forth a break-through, more awareness -- even if the awareness slipped into an aggravating cough or in aggressive speech, both of which I would have preferred to skip, but I take as an indicator that there were deeper levels of clearing necessary to be more clear and balanced.  

Always pay attention to what's going on on the outside.  It reflects the inner world.  Be present to all the little nuggets and gems that revealed themselves to you through images, dreams, thoughts, and actions over the last 8 weeks.  Take some time to write them down.  

The whole practice of shining awareness to the energy centers is a mighty one that we'll continue as we step into the fire season of summer and the bright light of the crescendo to the Solstice.  I look forward to the continued journey.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Week (8): The Seventh Chakra, Sahasrara Chakra. The Crown Chakra, The Thousand Petal Lotus Chakra, Akaha - All Knowledge, Seat of Shiva
Location: Top of the Head, Space between the brain and the skull
Basic Right: The Right to Know
Bija Mantra: OM
Celestial Body: Uranus
Color: Violet
Developmentally: 12 & Up
Element: Thought
Goals: Wisdom, knowledge, spiritual connection
Guna: Beyond the Gunas - Transcendence of Time and Space
Major Psychological Life Area: Spirituality
Malfunction: Confusion, apathy, overly intellectual
Plane: Beyond mind, form, sense
Yoga Path:  Jnana Yoga
Yantra: White petals with golden tips

Monday, May 11, 2009

6th Chakra, Ajna Chakra

This Week (7): The Sixth Chakra, The Ajna Chakra. The Third Eye Chakra, The Perception & Command Chakra
Location: Behind Eyebrow Center in the Mid-brain
Basic Right: The Right to See
Bija Mantra: Hum Sa
Celestial Body: Neptune
Color: Indigo Blue
Developmentally: 7-12 Years
Element: Light
Goals: Psychic perception, imagination, ability to see patterns
Guna: Sattwa
Major Psychological Life Area: Imagination
Malfunction: Headaches, nightmares, hallucinations
Plane: Beyond mind, form, sense
Yoga Path:  Yantra Yoga
Yantra: White wings, a circle with  golden triangle

Ajna (Pronounced Ahg-knee-ya) Chakra is the home of your 3rd eye -- your inner sight, higher seeing.  This is how we clearly see the world and intuitively navigate it from connection to Brahma -- to source by cultivating a relationship to our higher Self through practices such as meditation.  Connection through meditation puts us in touch with possibility -- it is the realm where past, present and future all merge and anything is possible and all things can be imagined.  It is where we clearly perceive the world and also command our destiny in it through our capacity to project our consciousness into creation.

Ajna is the essence of sattwa -- of clarity and light.

We will build on last week's practice and focus on lateral poses (parsvakonasana and trikonasana with very bowed upper ribs and arm extended laterally); ardha matsyendrasana and bharadvajasana twists, back bends (supta virasana, up dog and pincha mayurasana; and extensions (baddha konasana, gomukhasana, virasana, tadaka mudra and maha mudra).  

Everything I said last week with sattwa is pertinent here, as well.

Be present with all that is coming up for you -- these chakra areas are opening and becoming more activated.  How is that manifesting for you?  Like me, you may find yourself being more direct, more forceful, more clear.  Just note the changes and reflect on them in the context of your practice.  These releases demonstrate your dominant guna and what practice you might need to do to move toward sattwa.

I look forward to seeing you this week and hearing your thoughts and reflections.


Monday, May 4, 2009

5th chakra and Sattwa

This Week (6): The Fifth Chakra, The Vissudha Chakra. The Throat Chakra, The Meaning Chakra
Location: Throat -- Behind Larynx
Basic Right: The Right to Speak and Hear Truth
Bija Mantra: So Hum
Celestial Body: Mercury
Color: Bright Blue
Developmentally: 6 - 10 Years
Element: Space and Sound
Goals: Clear Communication, creativity, resonance
Guna: Sattwa
Major Psychological Life Area: Communication
Malfunction: Sore throats, stiff neck, poor communication
Plane: Total evolution in will-power and strength
Sense: Touch
Yoga Path:  Mantra Yoga
Yantra: Mauve petals with a dark Well, white shines up from the bottom

Wow, week 6 and the 5th Chakra -- we are more than halfway through and moving up to the higher realms.  Panditji says that if you get established in the first four you have a life well-lived.  Anything above the 4th chakra is rarified territory.  Well, let's talk about it and seek an experience of it.

We have been focusing on the 3 Gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattwa)-- the attributes; qualities that pervade our human experience.  They correspond to the chakras and Sattwa corresponds to the 5th and 6th chakras.  Sattwa is Being, Purity, Ease, & Light.  Sattwa is the Mission of Yoga -- to get a more clear and accurate perception of the world and what the world offers.  The goal of all spiritual traditions is to shine light so that we can see and be seen.

One way to look at these three gunas is that when mired in Tamas it is dark and we cannot see.  So we increase our light, do things to see more clearly through Rajas and finally, when we shine enough light into the darkness we can see -- resting in the purity and clarity of Sattwa.
Once you can see, you are awake and can see what's possible and take your destiny, your dharma into your own hands, realizing that, "I am the creator of my circumstances."  The reason we want to see more clearly is to have more choices and choose the more pleasant and joyful path.  You have to SEE the path first in order to choose it, of course.  Through Sattwa we choose the easy path that will make us happy in the long run.  

Emotionally, the three gunas play out very differently.  If you are in Tamas, you might withdraw and go into a state of paralyzed, inert, self-destructive behavior.  If in Rajas, you generally look outside yourself to place fault -- on the stock market or your partner, planning punishment or melodrama.  But when Sattwa reigns, common sense prevails and quickly the mind assesses, "What am I supposed to learn from this?  What do I need to do?"  You are able to examine the situation and react from a place of steady centeredness.

Whatever guna is dominant (activated) dictates our thoughts and reactions.  Our reaction is predetermined by whichever Guna is activated -- so how do we move into Sattwa -- establish ourselves in relation to Sattwa?

The practice this week to build Sattwa will focus on the Throat Chakra -- Vissudhi (which means pure).  In terms of asanas, a key piece is to do inversions to encourage the energy to move to the throat and head.  We'll also do laterals to lengthen the side body and effectively move the energy upwards; twists to balance all the energy; and extensions to create vertebral length and open the body and clear vision.  

The breath to focus on will be Sama Vritti (Equal Waves Breath-- the inhale and exhale the same length).  In the process of doing this breath, any areas that are out of balance reveal themselves -- if the inhale is longer than the exhale, if the beginning of the breath is catchy or flimsy, the breath will reveal it's tendencies and our job is to bring it mindfully even.  

The bandha that is new this week is Jolandhara Bandha at the throat -- you simply lengthen your neck with upper spine to keep energy from rising above the collar bones where it could activate your intellect (not the goal in yoga) -- or you can drop your chin to the breast bone -- either way you gently seal the energy at or below the throat.  

Meditation is all about the witness -- observing the mind.  Passively watch stream of thought and not get involved with what thinking (this is the essence of Sattwa).  A powerful way to anchor the mind is first to get established in circular breathing (sama vritti breath with no pauses) and then to begin Mantra - to hear the eternal vibration and align with the sounds -- the streams of Consciousness that point us to divine presence.

All this establishes us in Sattwa -- we practice aligning with Sattwa so that when the stuff of life inevitably hits the fan we can shift into Sattwa and navigate our way through it very mindfully and Consciously -- making the wisest most astute choices for all.

Hari Om.  Good night.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NEW! Gentle Class on Wednesday Nights

Beginning last night, my Wednesday Night class is now a Gentle Class, ideal for beginners, people with special conditions or injuries, and those who want to focus on restorative and deeply rejuvenating yoga.  

In this class we will do a very gentle sequence focusing on foundational elements of yoga -- stability through the legs and feet, passive or gentle stretches, basic asanas, supported poses and using the wall to modify poses with a regular return to the breath as the fundamental gateway to a yogic state of steady balance and clarity.

We will be spending up to half the class in restorative poses (passive supported supine asanas), yoga nidra (yogic sleep which is deeply healing to the psyche), savasana, and meditation (supported at the wall if necessary).  The theme of this Gentle class will continue with the chakras and gunas and thematically parallel my All Levels classes.

So often people avoid something new or a public class if they are dealing with a lot of stress, intense emotions, anxiety, depression, a chronic injury, grief, sleep interruptions, mood swings, or a host of other fairly common symptoms of American life.  This class is a safe, peaceful, informative and experiential opportunity to learn techniques to shift into awareness of your true nature -- your complete, stable, joyful and courageous Self.

Please join me -- this class is more about being than doing -- it is a gift from the wisdom of the sages and an antidote to modern life.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ayurveda Class Series Underway on Monday Nights

For the next 3 weeks on Monday nights, join me at Radha Crawley and Aaron Schwaller's Ayurvedic Seminar that is in the very familiar Room 105 Tapestry Yoga Classroom Space from 7-9 pm.  These two have a great deal of study with some serious vedic masters and are captivating several of us with the brilliance of this sister-science which is closely related to the Tantric Yoga that I teach.  I promise you, if you want to take the science of yoga more into your daily life, you will pick up many essential treasures from these two super-enthusiastic and talented guides.

Here is there link advertising the class and I'm sure there will be more great info posted as well:

Monday, April 27, 2009

4th Chakra and Rajasic Sattwa

This Week (5): The Fourth Chakra, The Anahata Chakra. The Heart Chakra
Location: Heart - 1 finger width to the right of the spine
Basic Right: The Right to Love and Be Loved
Bija Mantra: Yam
Celestial Body: Venus
Color: Green
Developmentally: 3 to 6 Years
Element: Air
Goals: Balance in relationships and with self, compassion, self-acceptance
Guna: Rajas
Major Psychological Life Area: Love
Malfunction: Deficient: Isolation, low self-esteem, collapsed chest, shallow breathing, melancholy.  Excessive: Codependent, care-taking, clinging behaviors
Plane: Peace, joy, compassion, and understanding
Sense: Touch
Yoga Path:  Bhakti Yoga (devotional yoga)
Yantra: Blood-red petals, a blue 6-pointed star

The last definition of Tantra that Mani Finger (my teacher's first guru) gave to my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker was this:
Tantra:  The satisfaction of touch.  To have your heart touched, to feel awe and wonder of having your heart touched.  To live with wonder; to have the heart touched with the sacred; the living wonder.

Monday, April 20, 2009

3rd Chakra and Rajasic Sattwa

This Week (4): The Third Chakra, The Manipura Chakra. The Navel Chakra, Power Center
Location: Solar Plexus
Basic Right: The Right to Act
Bija Mantra: Ram
Celestial Body: Mars, Sun
Color: Yellow
Developmentally: 18 months to 3 years
Element: Fire
Goals: Vitality, strength of will, purpose
Guna: Rajas
Major Psychological Life Area: Power
Malfunction: Ulcers, timidity, domination, fatigue, digestive troubles
Plane: Attachment, pain, psychic center
Sense: Sight
Secondary Chakra: The Hands
Yantra: Dark purple petals and a red triangle

The U.S.A. is a 3rd chakra country -- it is obsessed with power, very identified with ourselves and locked into our identity.  3rd chakra is about ambition.  This fire component is what moves us forward.  Life in the USA is Rajas Dominant -- we are the hardest working, least vacationing people in the world and we have all the stuff to prove it.  Ultimately, all of this takes us out of balance and our quality of life is declining, our lives feel empty (many people are on anti-depressants) dominated by unhealthy, hyperactive, blind ambition.

The dominant guna for 3rd and 4th chakras is rajas and our goal in the next two weeks of class is to create Rajasic Sattwa within the body -- pure rajas creates imbalance, but rajas with a sattwic component is balanced, enlivened and serves the goal of yoga - to serve Consciousness.

The Asanas we do for Rajas are:
Backbends (especially those done on the stomach like salambasana and dhanurasana); arm balances, standings and twists (3rd chakra especially and balance the practice with samana --equalizing energy).

In pranayama (breath), we emphasize the inhalation to build energy --to build the energy of change and enthusiasm -- even holding after inhalation if we can do it with steadiness.  The awareness naturally goes outward on holdings, but with mindful awareness directed inward, a rajasic sattwic state is realized.  We will continue to work with breath ratios -- counting our breath-lengths and demanding awareness in shaping the breath to keep the awareness inside.

The major bandha is uddiyanda banda by exhaling completely and drawing the internal organs in and up to the back body.  This stimulates the 3rd chakra.
In meditation the emphasis is on light or space.  If awareness is unable to stay inside at the end of the practice then the sequencing was too rajasic, too activating.  You should be able to settle into the light of your own heart and hear Nada -- the unstruck sound of the soul.  The goal in savasana is to have a thread to inner connection and the ability to attune to inner vibration and energy.  

The key to steeping this activating practice in Sattwa is Bhavana (devotional energy).  The goal is to cultivate a connection to the soul, to inner knowledge and keeping the mind internally clear and balanced.  

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Para Yoga Invocation

There is a powerful mantra that has been given to Para Yoga by Yogarupa Rod Stryker's Guru, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait.  Panditji, as he's affectionately called, is a rare master of yoga on many levels -- most importantly as a practitioner and student of Sri Swami Rama, as well as an academic with Ph.D.'s from the University of Allahabad in Sanskrit Studies and a second from the University of Pennsylvania in Eastern Philosophy where he did his thesis on Sri Vidya -- a very ancient and profound tantric lineage -- the keys to which Panditji holds through a lifetime of devotion to practice.

Recitation of mantra is a powerful way into the practice of yoga and a mantra which has been "un-locked" by a teacher is an extraordinary way to vibrationally attune to source.  It is dramatically more powerful to get a mantra from a qualified teacher than it is to simply read about it in a book and start chanting it.  The Para Yoga Invocation for Parashakti is a profound gift from Panditji to his beloved student, Yogarupa, and all students of Para Yoga.

This invocation should be chanted 3 times at the opening or closing of any tantric practice.  It is an excellent mantra to learn and chant out loud or silently to yourself at the beginning or end of your day.  Just beginning a meditation practice and chanting this 3 times before watching the breath for 2 minutes is an excellent beginning home practice.

Each class at the end of Savasana, I chant this mantra to honor the wisdom and lineage of the himalayan masters.  It deeply penetrates the 5 layers of Consciousness and permeates your being.  I will begin to teach this mantra to my students as I am guided, but here are the words:

The Parayoga Invocation for Parashakti
Ganesha graha nakshatra
Yogini rashi rupinim
Devim Mantra Mayim Naumi
Matrika Pitta Rupinim

For now, know that this mantra imparts a tremendous connection to the divine mother, the divine feminine energy that pervades the universe and honors the power and light of the stars as the same light that shines in us as us.  

Panditji completed the chanting of this mantra 3 times with Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.  Peace, Peace, Peace.

Hari om. Om tat sat.

Monday, April 13, 2009

2nd Chakra and Tamasic Sattwa

This Week (3): The Second Chakra, The Swadisthana Chakra. The Creativity Chakra, Sexuality and Emotions Center
Location: Tailbone, reproductive organs, lower abdomen
Basic Right: The Right to Feel
Bija Mantra: VAM
Celestial Body: Moon
Color: Orange
Developmentally: 6 to 24 Months
Element: Water (that flows)
Goals: Fluidity, Pleasure, Relaxation
Guna: Tamas
Major Psychological Life Area: Sex
Malfunction: Stiffness, sexual problems, isolation, emotional instability or numbness
Plane: Sexuality, likes, desires, and enjoyment
Secondary Chakra: The Hands
Yantra: Orange petal with a silver crescent moon

Classically, 2nd chakra is all about getting energy moving-- the fluid motion of water; the passionate energy of sensuality; the dynamic freedom of the hips and low back through the movement of dance; the feeling of feelings; and the general upward movement of energy from the stability of the 1st chakra making its way up through the chakras to the crown.

Energetically, however, our goal at second chakra is to continue to cultivate tamasic sattwa -- stability and clarity -- so our focus will specifically be on bringing steadiness to the emotional body through skillfully shaping prana; cultivating a connection to the inner witness observer; and sequencing of the asanas.  In tantra, stability in the physical body at 1st chakra and steadiness at the 2nd chakra in the emotional body together create a foundation for greater freedom as awareness expands.  Feel the feelings, but don't be a slave to them.

The key piece to steadiness in the 2nd chakra is the ability to let go -- eliminate, non-attachment, the ability to move on -- to FORGIVE.  It is key to stop churning emotions, stop creating melodramas, and to stop patterns of behavior that mix up your life and take it off-course and keep it drifting.

While 1st chakra is about the individual, 2nd chakra is about duality -- our relationship to others, about polarity (sun/moon; light/dark; male/female).  

Hatha yoga asanas we'll focus on this week are chakra vakasana (the cat/cow pose on all 4's we frequently begin with which get the femurs back in the hips so we can open the pelvis); forward bends are very key to second chakra (janu sirsasana, paschimottanasana, malasana, upavista konasana); standing poses (parsvottanasana, prasarita padottanasana, utkatasana, and uttanasana (with one and two legs)); backbends (bhujangasana and ustrasana); and extensions (chataranga dandasana).  There's a lot of sanskrit here, but we'll use the english names in class, too.  Again, like with 1st chakra, there are no inversions here (other than possibly headstand). 

We'll continue to cultivate a relationship to the practices from last week:  1:2 breath with smooth circular breathing); hold on exhalation; kriya -- action or movement to move energy consciously and accelerate transformation -- (moving energy down the spine on inhale and to the earth on the exhale); mulabanda on exhale, and establish ourselves in helpful rhythms to create a sustained connections to the steady, restful energy of tamasic sattwa.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free Private Lessons

Announcing Tuesday Morning Private Lesson Time FREE to all students signed up for this session.  For the next 6 weeks, I have a private sessions available each Tuesday from 10:15-11:45.  This is an opportunity to get one on one coaching with your yoga practice, ask deeper questions about your personal practice, break through to the next level with a pose (practice handstand in the middle of the room), request a personal meditation practice, create a home practice sequence, review concepts you want to understand more deeply, or just have a metaphysical discussion.  

It is an excellent opportunity for me to listen closely to the unique experience and questions you have regarding your yoga practice and to refine the art of vinyasa krama which means personalizing yoga practices.  I have the morning free til 12:30 and Carol Anne Kemen is donating the studio time to us after class, so we should do this!

Think about when you would like to come and email me at to pick a time (any Tuesday through 5/23 at 10:15). 


Monday, April 6, 2009

1st Chakra and Tamas

Throughout this session, I am using Anodea Judith & Selene Vega's wonderful book, "The Sevenfold Journey" as a reference for this chakra information.  The Guna info is 100% Rod Stryker.

This Week (2):  The First Chakra, The Muladhara Chakra. The Root Chakra, Survival Center
Location: Base of the Spine; Specifically the perineum (for men) and the cervix (for women)
Basic Right:  The Right to Have
Bija Mantra: LAM
Celestial Body: Saturn
Color: Red
Developmentally: 2nd Trimester to 9 Months
Element:  Earth (heavy, solid, dense)
Goals: Stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, physical health
Guna: Tamas
Major Psychological Life Area: Survival
Malfunction: Obesity, hemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, eating disorders, knee troubles, bone disorders, frequent illness, frequent, fears, inability to focus, spaciness and restlessness.
Plane:  judgement, delusion, dislikes and materialism.
Secondary Chakra: The Feet
Yantra: Fiery Red Petals.  A yellow square with a red triangle and a coiled serpent within.

This week I'll be sequencing the classes to cultivate a connection to a guna combo called tamasic sattwa (stable clarity) because this is the energy we want to have moving through us to be lined up with the best of the first chakra.   Out of balance, first chakra carries the energy of tamas -- dark, inert, stagnant.  But in balance, the first chakra is dominated by tamasic sattwa.  This combination has a particular quality -- it makes us more steady and established in rhythms and perspectives that are helpful to us; improves our endurance and groundedness; and even increases our ability to eliminate -- to forgive and let go so we can move on. 

Key pieces to this are Forward Bends, Balancing Poses, Standing Poses (for strength and stability), twists; longer holds; and restorative poses.  Poses to avoid for this are inversions.  Last week, we focused on breathing that had a 1:1 inhale:exhale ratio (with circular breathing) so that we would cultivate the steady clarity of sattwa. This week we want to go deeper into tamasic sattwa -- so we'll shift it to a 1:2 ratio (In 4 counts; Out 8 counts), possibly even holding after exhale.

To contain this energy at the root chakra, you can do mulubandha (lift the pelvic floor by gently drawing the tailbone in and up) on the exhale only. 

And for meditation we'll meditate below the heart, on the breath with a dharana -- one pointedness -- a visualization perhaps that grounds the experience (as opposed to meditating on space which is the 7th chakra).  We'll be doing a very ancient meditation to close class this week and next week that focuses the energy around stability and connectedness to earth.  

A practice very strong in tamasic sattwa has profound effects -- one student of Rod's slept through the night for the first time in 23 years after doing a 2 hour practice focused on cultivating this. 

Be aware of what comes up for you in your dreams this week after class and what else plays out in your day after 90 minutes of awareness and energy cultivation around this first chakra.  This one is a challenge -- it is the seat of most of our "stuff" -- our insecurities and worries in a time that is full of uncertainty according to the newspapers.  Remember, we can count on change -- our job is to be steady in the face of change; see the most choices and have the most freedom in choosing with awareness.  

Thanks for reading and for coming to class this session.  All three classes are running and a great group of people are signed up.  Awesome!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Gunas-- Governors' of Emotion

The Gunas are a powerful piece of the Tantric Yoga worldview to master and stay connected at all times to source.  Since I just got back from a fabulous Rod Stryker yoga weekend (and road trip with Anne O'Connor for her 41st birthday) where the theme of the weekend's 5 classes was the Gunas, it seems like an obvious thing to weave into the current session.

The Gunas (tamas, rajas and sattwa) are 3 inherent energies that influence everything that comes into being.  Before conception, the 3 gunas are balanced in us as Parusha (our infinite nature; our Soul) until they encounter Prakriti -- the energy that brings things into nature -- and the great, noble idea which is the seed of each of us gets kicked from the soul realm of perfection into the manifest realm of change (and suffering) as a unique ideal that is now part of the changing world (Prakriti).  When that happens, we necessarily drop out of balance, one guna actually predominates and we begin a continuous cycle of changing guna domination.  Whichever guna is dominating in a given moment governs our emotional experience and reaction to the world.  

First let's look more closely at what these terms (tamas, rajas and sattwa) mean and how exactly they show up in our world.  

We all come into embodiment with a level of Tamas which literally means dark, stagnant, inertia.  It also refers to ignorance, misapprehension of who we are, of suffering and not remembering our connection to source.  The very fact that we're embodied means there's a veil on our true nature (parusha) and an inability to see the patterns of behavior and thinking that keep parusha covered.   However underlying this is a deep desire to do better, be better and feel less ignorant -- an inherent sense that there is something beyond ourselves.  This sense is fueled by the second guna, rajas.

Rajas is related to the sanskrit word Rejatas (which means light; light of the heavenly bodies, of the the stars; light to aspire) and is the seed of our desire to embody this light.  Rajas also means activity and enlivenment and fuels this desire to bring light into our darkness.  Yoga practices connect us to this light by shining light into our darkness.

As we connect more to light we come to a third inherent quality, Sattwa, which means purity, ease, consciousness, freedom.  Sattwa is related to the sanskrit word Sat (Being, existence - soul is being).  When Sattwa energy is dominant we don't reject darkness, we understand it and gain access to higher understanding and perception.

In a nutshell, we come to yoga with Tamas (a little stuck in body and mind), add a little Rajas --activity, light and awareness and this leads us after some practice to Sattwa -- to more freedom, the ability to act more and more consciously and to remain steady in the face of change.

All three gunas are in everything in this earth realm (prakriti) and one of them is always dominant.  Every action has a dominant guna -- for instance:
What kind of movie to choose?  A scary movie is more Tamas; an adventure story has more Rajas and an inspiring movie based on the best of human nature has more Sattwa.  

The more we take in and surround ourselves with a specific guna, the more dominant that guna becomes in our life through the company that we keep, what we eat, what we watch and listen to, the work we do, how much time we spend in nature -- everything influences which guna is dominant and whatever guna is dominant directly influences our response.

Everyday, at some point, I experience dominance of Tamas, Rajas and Sattwa.  It's a rare day that is dominated by Tamas at this point, but in my twenties when I had a severe case of clinical depression, I was definitely mired in Tamas and it was a good thing I got help when I did through therapy and a 6-year Wellbutrin prescription.  It was two years of yoga practice that increased my rajas (my connection to light) enough that I could wean off the anti-depressant.  Now, another 5 years later (and a heck of a trip to India) I sometimes need sunglasses the world inside and outside feels so bright.  

Plenty of people spend most of their time in one guna -- Tamas depressed couch potatoes; Rajas Type A Personalities; or Sattwa enlightened ones -- The Dalai Lama, Jesus, Budda, Rumi.   
For most of us, the goal is to minimize tamas, have a sane amount of rajas and be in sattwa for all the important parts of your day, as much as possible.  This is the practice.  Practice, practice, practice.  And the questions to ask to see if you are doing the right practice: "Am I more joyful and do I have less fear?" 

Swami Rama, my great-grand guru said this (and I really pay attention to this for Sattwa), "You are the company that you keep -- so keep good company."  

To the company that we keep, I salute you!


A brief overview of the Chakras

This Spring session focuses on the Chakra System and how it relates to the Gunas.  You've probably all heard of the Chakras, but what in the world is a Guna?  

Chakras are centers of consciousness -- 7 are widely accepted as the main ones and they run up the spine and past the top of the head and they represent 7 states of consciousness.

The Gunas are three qualities of prakriti (nature which always changes): 1) tamas (darkness), 2)rajas (light) and 3) sattwa (clarity).  The gunas govern our emotions and relate to the chakra system.  

For now, let's go over the chakra system in general.  There are (conveniently) 7 weeks of class ahead of this session and each week we'll focus on a chakra.  The 7 chakras are Muladhara (Root); Swadhishthana (Abdomen); Manipura (Navel); Anahata (Heart); Vissudhi (Throat); Ajna (Eyebrow Center) and Sahasrara (Crown of the Head).  Chakras are spinning vortexes of energy vertically stacked within the center of the body and receive, integrate and transmit energy from consciousness to the physical body.  

Each chakra specializes in managing the energy of a specific area of human experience (survival, sex, power, love, communication, imagination and spirituality) and there are layers of other correlations to each chakra in the realms of gemology, color, elements, herbs, planets, secondary chakras and foods, to name a few.  There is also a correlation with the 3 Gunas -- Tamas is dominant in chakras 1 & 2; Rajas in 3 & 4 and Sattwa in 5 & 6.  The 7th chakra is beyond Prakriti and the changing world and is the realm of Parusha, the Soul, which is universal, infinite and beyond space and time.   

There is a tremendous body of knowledge around chakras, but we are interested in them as a framework for experiencing life with greater clarity and awareness.  By acknowledging each aspect of ourselves; activating and clearing our energy centers with techniques from the yogic tradition and visualizing the energy centers dynamically interconnected, we take a step toward connecting from this physical world (of change, aches and pains, ups & downs; Prakriti) to the realm of Parusha and connection to infinite source and joy.  This connection is at the philosophical heart of yoga -- the whole goal is to unite with the divine -- to remember our true nature and merge in oneness with source.

Just a few major ideas and philosophical tenets to digest in here, aren't there?  A good start, I hope.   Send any questions or comments my way.  Yoga is a spiritual practice.  It is not a religion, but should support you in any religious beliefs you have.  The key word is practice -- on the mat we practice observing, moving and mastering energy and that begins to shift our experience of life right away and informs our view of the world.

Hari Om.  Om tat sat.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Session: March 31-May 23, 2009 The Chakras and The Gunas

I am back from India and so glad to be home in Viroqua!  What a time I have had -- 14 plane rides; many pilgrimmage sites with incredible energy and intense images searing my psyche; incredible lectures from Panditji who truly is an extraordinary thinker and yogi of our time; a jarring phone call from home revealing my father-in-laws passing my first week in India; profound conversations with my husband; a long trip home across 12 time zones and 4 nights; a short home reunion and a trip to New Mexico for John's funeral and a sacred trip to the beautiful canyon where he fell and died in my husband Matt's arms; a week home alone with the kids reconnecting with them, routine and home life; and just this past weekend an integrating, healing weekend with my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker.

And today, the first class of the Spring Tapestry Yoga Session.  How wonderful it is to be back.

There are a hundred things (at least) to blog about, to catch up on, to delve more deeply into.... There are many days to put those words together.  For now, the most pressing is this class session for Spring: Class times remain the same -- Tuesdays 8:30-10:00 am; Wednesdays 6:45-8:30 pm and Saturdays 8-9:30 am.  March 31- May 23.

The theme of this session is The 7 Chakras.  Focusing on 1 chakra per week, we'll explore the 7 energy centers of the body and their relationship to the Gunas --  the qualities of energy that govern our emotions and our perception of life. Tantra Yoga is an energy management scheme with many techniques and tools to help us shape our experience of the world so that we live in it with greater clarity, mindfulness, courageousness and joy.  Each week I will sequence the class to connect with the energy of one chakra in particular culminating in a short meditation to bring the balanced, positive energy of the energy center more consciously into our awareness.  We will also integrate all 7 energy systems along the sushumna nadi; the central channel in the spine through visualization and sound.  By the end of the session we'll know the names of each chakra, their main energetic vibrations; their bija sound; their corresponding Guna (and the gunas themselves); the three maha bandhas to seal energy in the body; and explore several meditation focal points and several pranayamas.  We'll be busy, for sure.

My adventure in India and the intense shake-up in my family life were a profound opportunity to face the greatest hurdles life can throw at you.  Seven years of yoga practice prepared me to face the challenge of it all with equanimity and a sense of connectedness to source; to my family 12,000 miles away, to my father-in-law on the other side; to clarity and a deep sense of expansive joy and light.  Returning home after all this reminds me of the value of a regular practice; how deeply an understanding of the deeper practices beyond asana allow us to manage the fluctuations of life; and a deep knowing that energy is everything.

So, let us come together and have fun with this ancient wisdom and apply it practically to the mundane day to day so we are ready for the twists and turns we inevitably face.  Soon, I will announce a day for my India Feast to complete my pilgrimage and bring the energy of Kamachya home to my kula, my community here.  

With deep love and respect,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Survival Tip #1: Abyanga (Daily Sesame Oil Self-Massage with Warmed Oil)

Are you feeling cold and brittle as the temperature outside drops to -10??

Ayurveda to the rescue!  Ayurveda is the Indian approach to wellness and has much to offer in terms of self-care and balance.  Today in class I shared the practice of abyanga that I've been doing this week under guidance from my ayurvedic consultant, Kathryn Templeton in CT.  I also came across a letter from my sister-in-law, Carla Danly who is studying ayurveda and she says this about abyanga:
Performing abyanga (daily sesame oil self-massage with warmed oil) which is an ayurvedic treatment for vata imbalance (too much vata) [We are in the vata season from Nov-Feb and have a tendency to go out of balance in vata].  The idea is that vata's being sensitive to increased nervous energy in cold, windy weather [and can be soothed by applying warmed oil to the body to calm the central nervous system].   

[Kathy here: This is how you do it: warm up the bathroom, undress and use a dry-skin brush to brush the skin from the periphery to the heart brushing along the long bones.  Systematically brush the entire body, brushing clockwise on the belly.  This stimulates the skin to release toxins.  Then take warm sesame oil (I filled up the sink with hot water and put the sesame oil bottle in the water while I brushed), then apply the warm oil from the periphery to the core and rub the joints in circles vigorously.  Spend about 20 minutes on this self-massage and then run a warm shower or bath.  For the last 30 seconds (or in my case 5 seconds) of the shower, turn the water to cold and do a refreshing cold rinse.  Truly invigorating, but the deep penetrating warmth remains].

Carla goes on to say: The cumulative effects of this treatment over time is that the oil is initially absorbed by the skin, making it softer/smoother, then into the muscle tissue, making the muscles more supple (helps lots with yoga), then the oil is absorbed by the joints, improving the quality of the synovial fluid.  Ayurveda recognizes the knees as an area with nodules like lymph nodes which collect toxins for removal from the body so the knees are an area for concentration with the oil massage (one should also emphasize the lymph node of the neck and armpit).  The oil is also absorbed through the abdominal wall into the intestines where it improves digestion....  On particularly cold days I really appreciated the hot oil on the back of the neck, the ears and the lumbar and sacral areas of the back.  The whole business completely changed the nature of Michigan winter for me... (that and my #4 merino wool Patagonia long johns!)... I never found winter unpleasant at all, not physically, not emotionally.  
Kathy here again:  Give it a try; it's wonderful.  And for a little while at least, Radha Crawley is still here and she specializes in ayurvedic massage.  I'm going to get sirodhana hot oil massage (oil flows down to the third eye and it's supposed to be sublime) before she moves to Sedona, AZ.  We will miss her in so many ways.  She's also hosting a warm spa night on Friday which will be a total winter treat.

Blessings for warmth!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Starting Class on TIME in 2009 (and ending on time, too)

It is awesome that you are coming to yoga class and you are totally rocking to get yourself to class -- clearing the deck of all other obligations and making time for yourself. That is a BIG accomplishment and a credit to your commitment to being your best self.  The time you've protected for class is probably just about all you have for yoga and you need to me to end class on time so you can get back to your regularly scheduled LIFE.

Got it.

So, I've been strategizing about how to get class started and still accommodate the reality that this life-stuff holds us up sometimes.  Pretend class starts at least 5 minutes earlier than it is posted and come and get your coats off (these Wisconsin winter garments can take several minutes to de-layer) and roll out your mat and get situated.  Starting Tuesday, 1/13, as the class time chimes, I'll put a little sign on the outside of the door for any late arrivals and begin the centering.  This sign will ask late arrivals to wait outside until the centering is complete (generally 7-10 minutes) and then I'll come invite anyone who is waiting to please come in and jump into practice with us. 

If you arrive 'just' before the centering starts, I ask you to move quickly and set up a simple seat with two blankets so I can begin.  You can get more completely set-up with a mat and props after the centering.  My goal is to be doing warm-ups within 10 minutes of the start time.  The pay-off for all this will be that there's enough time to do all the poses I plan, time for savasana and there's still time for a 5-10 minute meditation.  After your asana practice and the integration time in savasana, you are primed to Sit and can easily slip into sublime, spacious stillness.  The great Swami Rama said, "Everyday, make time for silence, make time for silence, make time for silence." 

Let's hold the space together for class and milk it for all it's worth -- I'll arrive 15 minutes before and stay at least 15 minutes after class for questions and any one-on-one coaching you are interested in.  And I will teach for 90 minutes (105 on Wed night) straight through so that you can get the most out of the time you are protecting for your practice.  

Hari om and blessings on all our good intentions,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, Sva Dharma (Gem #1), Cleanse

Great turn out for class today -- it had all the energy of New Year's resolve kicking in big-time with 12 students packing out room 105 (including dear baby Cassidy).  I profoundly felt the momentum of resolution myself today and yesterday morning, the first Monday of the 2009.  I woke up at 4:00 a.m. (which I often do), but I actually got UP and went to practice.  Then after 2 hours I headed downstairs and decided then and there to begin Susan Barendregt's 3 week cleansing diet (for the 3rd time since April) which always brings me into mindful, conscious eating.  

BTW, Susan's starting an official "Cleanse Group" in 2 weeks and I'm going to offer a weekly cleanse yoga class as part of that, but more on that another time.  But if you feel inspired to break-through to some diet ah-ha's, I highly recommend signing up and learning more from Susan.  Plan on getting a lot of support and enjoying a tremendous momentum working with her and her weekly group teach-ins.

I've been thinking a lot about what to teach this session and what I'm really aspiring to share as a teacher -- as a guide.  Well, perhaps I should just share the hallmarks of what makes a class a Para Yoga class (this is copyrighted by Yogarupa Rod Stryker and I should note that I'm not an official purveyor of Para Yoga yet -- this year is my year to get certified), but as an 8-year student of this master teacher and an initiate in the tradition, I will try to offer something of his teachings, just not yet officially.  Anyway, today I chanted the full Para Yoga Invocation for Parashakti 3 times at the close of class, sequenced the class around twist energy with an activating (rajasic) focus to build inner light and fire and I talked about the first of the 6 Gems of Para Yoga (TM) which is Sva Dharma (Self Purpose -- Unique Soulful Expression in the World; Unique Destiny).  This Sva Dharma fits in so perfectly with the energy of resolve and the new year.

This session I'll transmit and teach this powerful mantra as a gateway to connect with the energy of the divine mother that guides us on our path to our unique destiny -- to Sva Dharma.  This is a central concept to this lineage of yoga that goes well beyond asana -- we are each unique expressions of light and divine energy and it is our duty to fully BE that expression.  We each are driven by a guiding force to fully individuate on a soul level and to have a clear vibration that is cultivated and shared in our lifetimes through our life's work.  Yoga is a masterful vehicle to help us achieve this goal by giving us techniques that cultivate prana (energy) and a means to direct it into manifest expression.  Anything that we can imagine, we can manifest.  It is this drive to BE that lines us up with the energy of the New Year, of possibility, of intention and resolve.

The goal of today's class was to raise our vibration (which we did right off by chanting A-U-M three times bringing the energy up the spine from root to crown through the central sushumna channel) and to cultivate inner light which we did through visualization of a flame at the navel center through a series of poses that concentrated energy at the solar plexus (especially utkatasana/chair/fierce and revolved triangle poses), leg raises (which fired up the abs--big wake-up call) and the closing twist.  All of this was powerfully supported by deeply cultivating a connection to breath and mindfulness by extending the inhale and exhale in balanced symmetry through sama vritti (equal waves) breath.  In the end, we integrated this energy in savasana and directed this consciously toward our personal intentions clarified in the centering.

We will go more deeply into all of this and learn a new 'gem' a week so that by the time I fly off to India, you'll have all 6.  And I promise, we will actually meditate in class -- I will start class on time in 2009 and stop talking and have you in savasana with 20 minutes to rest and come up for stillness.  That's a promise.

Hari Om.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter Session Starting: January 3 -February 11, 2009

Welcome to Tapestry Yoga.  I am eager to have a place on the web where I can write about the yoga I am teaching and offering in my new favorite place and new hometown, Viroqua, WI.  My yoga friend and colleague, Meg Abene Newlin got me started on this idea of blogging to stay connected with students with her blog (  So simple and easy to create and a perfect place to elaborate on themes and teachings from the classroom.  This is also a wonderful resource for posting class times, special events, announcements, and news.  

I began teaching classes in mid-October and have enjoyed teaching again after an 18-month break to move and get myself and my family settled here from Takoma Park, MD.  Three classes a week is a great opportunity to explore what resonates with students.  The "Fall Session" focused on the basics of yoga -- connecting every breath and movement to come into the present moment.  By letting breath lead the way into every pose, we become aware of the pulsing energy that is within us and around us.  Miraculously, connecting more to pulsation actually brings us into vibrant stillness and we move in life with greater clarity, equinimity and luminosity.  

This Winter Session, we'll cultivate our connection to inner light and fire as we move deeply into the heart of winter with very cold weather, short days and long nights.  We'll continue to focus on the foundations of asana, deepen our exploration of pranayama and move energy systematically to build internal fire to live vibrantly through the first months of this new year.  

The session ends somewhat randomly in mid-February to accommodate my upcoming trip of a lifetime:  A Pilgrimage to India with my grand-guru, Panditji to a magnificent shrine in the foothills of the Himalayas.  To learn more about this trip, you can check out: and click on the Kamakhya header on the main page.  There's much to write about this in future posts!  I will then resume teaching after I return very late on March 7th.

I look forward to writing often and elaborating on what I introduce in class.  I welcome you and your comments, thoughts and insights.  It is my clear intention to do this perfectly well, but to not be hampered by perfectionism.  The writing here will be "good enough" and will simply be a place for ideas in progress and reflections from my practice and study.  There's such a temptation in me for this to be a place where everything's flushed out and clear (and hopefully there will be moments), but it will be more easily done (and regularly written) if it's reflections in progress.  It occurs that this really is what 'blogging' is -- forgive me, but this whole concept is a new one to me -- and so I state the obvious -- blogs just ARE opinions and reflections.  

So, join me in stepping into 2009 -- linking this new blogging with the ancient lineage of the himalayan masters.  Yoga -- duality contrasted to non-duality.  It really is all one. 

Hari Om and Good Night.