In June I finished the course I had been working on since February. I learned a lot about the pelvic floor in all our bodies- male, female. I learned about glute muscles (the butt and outer hips), internal rotation of the hips and hip hinging, about rib flare problems.
Everything I learned in this course that is of use to me is something I hadn’t been taught before or elsewhere. There are pieces that I am adding into the big puzzle of my body. I am noticing for the first time habitual actions and movement patterns I was not aware of before. This is great, as then I have the opportunity to replace that with a skillful action or pattern that benefits my body. Sometimes I am doing this seemingly a million times a day, some days more successfully than others. All in all, it was a genuine life-changing course, as it answered some mysteries I’d had for maybe 40 years (how to stand up “straight”, or improve my posture) and questions as to why did I loose the ability to do things that used to be so easy for me. I am so glad I did the course and am personally grateful for all it taught me.
This, along with other circumstances leads me to share with you that I did not “enjoy” taking that online course. I struggled through 4-1/2 months of feeling aggravated. This has not been the only course or class or teacher I have “stuck it out”. I can’t say I’d do each of them again. Some I would, some I wouldn’t. But I can say I don’t regret any of them, for a variety of reasons.
Why tell you this? We are not going back to our little practice room to gather for class any time soon. But your being needs to be cared for no matter what the course of the pandemic is.
With that, here is my reference list of schools, teachers, trainers, classes online. This list is not exhaustive or comprehensive, so if I have missed something or someone, please be understanding that I just want to offer something to check out if you have not settled into a new way of practicing.
Yoga Schools offering online classes and online yoga streaming. These are schools I’ve been a student at that I respect and admire. You just can’t go wrong with any of these, in my opinion:
Seattle Yoga Arts https://www.seattleyogaarts.com/ my alma mater.
Two Dog Yoga https://twodogyoga.com/ my favorite place to take a weekend workshop.
Lotus Yoga http://www.lotusyoga.biz/ long established, steady presence with a mission to be present to the community in Columbia City.
Yoga in the Center https://www.yogainthecenter.com/ Very creative and widely sourced fusion yoga. Check out the kettle bells or the somatics.
Glo.com https://glo.com/ They are not exaggerating that they have “world class teachers”. I took many many classes from Jason Crandell, Stephanie Snyder, Jo Tastula, Kia Miller, Marc Holzman, Annie Carpenter and Rod Stryker. They have Meditation and Pilates, too.
Yoga Teachers offering online classes and private sessions:
Elizabeth Rainey https://elizabethrainey.com/ (my longtime teacher then mentor and now cohort) She is Inviting, gentle and kind- the diametric opposite of me. Rainey is a certified yoga therapist, offering Yoga Nidra along with asana classes and individual sessions.
Doug Keller https://www.doyoga.com/Pages/practice-video.htm I first met Doug at Two Dog Yoga in 2002! Excellent at teaching current scientific understanding woven into traditional yoga. He focuses on therapeutic practice for the body. This guy knows stuff… He brings together traditional postural yoga (he studied with Iyengar in India) with current studies of the fascial and nervous systems, just to mention the tip of the iceberg.
Dianne Bondy https://www.yogaforeveryone.tv/ Dianne is doing on a nationwide level work that I admire beyond words- yoga for those of us who do not look like magazine models. It’s not a hyperbole to say she has done the work to make yoga accessible!
Christina Sell https://www.christinasellyoga.com/ She’s extremely flexible, extremely strong and what you might have and image of when you think of the yogi who can do crazy poses. The caveat is she’s a baby boomer and shows what is possible at any age.
Trainers I have learned from and respect:
Tony Gentilcore https://tonygentilcore.com/ for his excellent and irreverent written content, https://home.tonygentilcore.com/ for his “Free-ish” training program. You may have seen the red sweatshirt “Because heavy things won’t lift themselves” This guy is great at keeping things interesting and getting things to move correctly. He’s a nice guy to top it off.
Dr. Sarah Duvall https://www.coreexercisesolutions.com/ is a trainer and a PhD of Physical Therapy. Check out her “Free Resources” tab or her social media content. It’s stuff to help with moving through life. The website states that she only works with women, but in her social media posts, she also works with men. The 4 months I spent learning from her has created a revolution in my ability to activate muscles and joints.
Cori Lefkowith https://redefiningstrength.com/programs/ Redefining Strength post tons of free stuff on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Pair how to move from the Physical Therapist with one or more of the stretching/activation/strengthening programs for steady, progressive changes for stability and mobility. All of Cori’s moves can been modified for the level you are working at- important to know because I’m not always sure she has a clue how strong she is.
To finish up, an emotional/mental care list of those I have or am finding key to understanding how to become kind and wise:
Tara Brach https://www.tarabrach.com/talks-audio-video/ Tara was my “gateway”. She was the first meditation teacher that spoke and taught what I needed. Her talks are easy to find and free, either through her website or podcast apps.
Sharon Salzberg https://www.sharonsalzberg.com/ Sharon taught me that there are actually a multitude of methods to mediation- especially important as the primary two that are taught (watch the breath and mantra) just get me more neurotic. Loving Kindness and Sound mediation were game changers.
Jonathan Foust https://www.jonathanfoust.com/weekly-talk?category=talks I first was recommended to listen to Jonathan because he also lives with chronic pain and teaches how to use mediation to live with it, rather that fix it or make it go away. I got hooked listening to him as he talks about his daily adventures and applying the Insight methods more or less skillfully. He really does walk his talk. Everything he teaches is freely offered.
“Our country is like a really old house. I love old houses. I’ve always lived in old houses. But old houses need a lot of work. And the work is never done.
"And that’s what our country is like. And you may not want to go into that basement, but if you really don’t go into that basement, it’s at your own peril. And I think that whatever you are ignoring is not going to go away. Whatever you’re ignoring is only going to get worse. Whatever you’re ignoring will be there to be reckoned with until you reckon with it. And I think that that’s what we’re called upon to do where we are right now.” Isabel Wilkerson
“Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.” Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom
May we all do our part to be kind to one another and to ourselves
This is a continuation of last month’s newsletter, "Motivation". I am not sure whether Action precedes motivation, or motivation precedes action. I don’t really care. What I do care about is after motivation, then what? As Tom Robbins wrote in Still Life with Woodpecker, “How to make love stay”? So, you tried some yoga at home or following an exercise video a couple of times. What are you doing now?
The other day I had a very hard time doing my planned workout. It was a supreme mental, emotional and physical effort for me that did not let up the entire time. I thought of those of you who have shared with me your challenges of practice with out a class to attend as I talked myself through my workout plan. I wanted most to tell you that there are sometimes days when I really, really do not want to work out or do yoga. And yet, I carry through, the best I am able. Here’s why and how.
Okay, that was a bunch of whys. Here now for some hows:
The stuff that tries to get in the way:
I have never once finished a workout or yoga practice and thought, “Well I should have just stayed on the couch”. I usually come away with feeling better, if not telling myself, “Good job, Michelle, you did it.” Being able to move is a blessing too easily lost.
Please take good care of yourself and your fellow beings.
From Latin, moveō (“I move”).
I thought long and hard whether to continue efforts of encouraging practice or exercise without a live, in-person class. I read other trainers’ and teachers’ writings on this subject and reflected back on what it was in my life that got me to finally do it. To those of you who are practicing yoga or exercising- please set aside what is not of use and carry on knowing that I bow to your diligence. Others of you already know this story, but it’s the only one I’ve lived.
A long, long time ago, (well 1994-95-ish) I was having a really hard time getting through a 40 hour work week because my boyfriend at the time was having a hard time not getting caught drinking and driving. My co-worker kept reminding me that when his wife was having the same problem I did (in love with an active alcoholic), she found a lot of help by going to Al-Anon. He just wouldn’t stop, asking me, “did you go yet?”, for about 6 months. Finally, I did. Partly it was out of shear desperation, partly because I would finally be able to shut him up by saying “Yes, I went to a meeting.”
Fast forward to 2001. Going to those meetings created in me the understanding that I was not a victim of my circumstances and conditions. I could change, I could be different. I joined Weight Watchers. Over the months, the meeting leader and the program kept saying over and over and over, “You have to move, do exercise, be active.” Now I had tried exercise off and on. But I had never felt comfortable in a class or gym. Just walking 20 minutes straight was a huge deal for me. Then, only to finally be able to say I was doing it, I signed up for a yoga class at the local community center.
It was flippin hard! Downward dog my head would be yelling “This is too hard- I HATE THIS!” Warrior 2 my front thigh would be burning with seemingly unbearable fire. Yet, there was something in me that knew this was the kind of exercise I could do, just as I was at that moment. I didn’t have to be in better shape, I didn’t have to have a different body. I didn’t have to fit in with the normal people. I didn’t need to be liked by others. Yoga was a good fit for me.
At the end of every class the teacher would beg, “Please practice at home, just even for 20 minutes!” She would bring books of yoga poses to show us, always with the implied “there’s nothing preventing you from doing this but you”.
I finally gave in- just like the previous times. I borrowed one of her books for a week. And it worked. I had to put up baby gates to keep the dogs out from under me. I had to plan around and negotiate with the (different by then) boyfriend who found it inconvenient to him and inconsiderately pushed hard on my boundaries for a while. But it worked. I was doing it- practicing at home on my own. I was in a whole new kind of living I had absolutely no previous experience with. I was 36 years old.
“How do you define motivation? Think about that. Once you have a definition, can you write it down? Speak it out loud?” (Lisa Lewis, EdD, CADC-II)
I define motivation as that which puts me into motion.
“There are those who will gain awakening even if they don’t hear the teaching, those who will gain awakening only if they hear the teaching, and those who won’t gain awakening even if they do hear the teaching. It’s because the second group exists that he teaches everyone who comes to him.” Ajaan Geoff, Karma Q & A : A Study Guide, (pdf) pp. 23-24.
I don’t know which of you reading this will, like me, eventually be motivated by the incessant plea to practice yoga or exercise. Perhaps you are moved, inspired, by this story. Perhaps you are disturbed or concerned that you are not doing something. Perhaps you are tired of being tormented by your aches or thoughts or that I constantly write about it.
As I tell my (not one of those above mentioned boyfriends) husband, I will continue to bring it up until you report back that you are doing it. If you don’t know how or where to begin, I am more than happy to help you find a way.