Yoga: Self Care Practice or Something More?

by Erin Ipjian

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Yoga is often presented as a self-care practice. We are told that if we practice yoga, we will feel better, get stronger, reduce stress, etc. And while those things are true, to me, this view of yoga is incomplete.

While our initial experiences of yoga may be centered on the impact it has on ourselves as practitioners, with time we begin to see that its potential reach runs much deeper.

Through yoga, we become more attentive to the breath, the sensations in the body, and the inner workings of the mind. Our practice develops into a moving meditation in which we are gently guided towards identifying less with the persona we present to the world. We become more fully connected with what remains - what yogis call the Authentic Self.

When we practice with dedication and an open heart, we experience a sense of union within and without. And at the end of a practice, when it’s time to step back out into the world, we never forget the truth that we see while on our mat — that we are whole, that this world is beautiful, and that we are connected to everyone and everything around us.

Exploring Yin Yoga

by Chuck Frenkel

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Yin yoga encompasses the yogic aspects of breathing, meditation, working with energies/emotions, BODY AWARENESS, and the practice of changing how we relate to our egoic thoughts with emphasis on breathing and meditation.  Yin teaches us to CONNECT and creates the environment and opportunity in which to do so. We learn to connect with our breath, our bodies (physical being), our true selves (spirit) and with EACH MOMENT of our existence.  We learn how to RELATE to our thoughts rather than just REACT to them, getting caught up in our mostly negative stream of mind stuff and getting distracted. 

Dealing with the mind/ego relationship is usually the most challenging for yoga students, not just with an asana practice but with all facets of a yoga practice.  In a yin yoga practice we work on letting go of judgments and expectations, becoming more fully present moment to moment, concentrating on the practice in each moment while being patient and compassionate with ourselves.  We try to embrace and incorporate the ideas of satya (being truthful) and ahimsa (non-harming) and move towards the just “being (in the moment)” rather than always “going and doing”. 

The yin practice helps us to be with ourselves without distraction, which, in some cases, can be a scary proposition.  This is where a good teacher comes into play.  That teacher can work with a student and help guide them through a safe and productive practice.  A good teacher can help guide the student as they make their way along their path, hopefully towards a more balanced practice and a more balanced life.  As our bodies find that balance, so does our mind and we become less reactionary and more observant.  As our mind slows and becomes less cluttered, we gain more clarity.

Many times, I have students come up after class and tell me they had no idea where the time went – it seemed like we had just started our practice.  This is a good indication that a student is starting to get out of their thinking mind, and instead they are starting to become less distracted by their thoughts.  When you’re in your head, caught up in your thoughts, being distracted by those thoughts and perhaps just waiting for the practice to be over (so you can be distracted somewhere else), you’re more aware of time.  When we are just “observing experience” (breath), we can lose sense of time’s passing and live our practice more fully, moment to moment, indicating that we are more fully present in each moment, more fully immersed in the meditation that is our wonderful yin practice.

-Chuck Frenkel, E-RYT & Yin Yoga Teacher

Practice Yin Yoga with Chuck and Polly:

Mondays 7:00-8:30 pm Yin Yoga with Chuck

Thursdays 6:45-8:15 pm Yin Yoga with Polly

Saturday, 9/22, 4:00-6:00 pm Exploring Yin Yoga Workshop with Chuck and Polly

 

 

Yoga as a Path to Stability

by Erin Ipjian

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I’ve never been a positive vibes only/rainbows and unicorns yoga student or teacher. 

In my mind, yoga acknowledges and embraces the full range of human emotion. It asks us to bear witness to both the light and dark within ourselves. And its accompanying practices gently, over time, direct us towards the place within each of us that is capable of observing our passing thoughts and emotions.

The true gift of yoga - far better than any fleeting “vibe” - is that with time and dedication, we become steadier and more focused. It’s not that we stop having emotions. Rather, we are training the mind so that we find ourselves being swept up and carried away by thoughts and emotions with less frequency and intensity.

All that we are asked to do is continually revisit the practices with dedication and an open heart.

Erin's current teaching schedule at Evolution:
Tuesday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels yoga
Thursday’s 9:30-10:45am mixed levels yoga
Sunday’s 12:00-1:00pm intro to yoga/gentle

Inspiration

by Debbie Woods

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One of my greatest sources of inspiration is my yoga students. Each week they come to the mat with courage, strength, perseverance, an open mind, an open heart, curiosity, a playful attitude and more. They come to see what their bodies can achieve and many times they’re drawn back to class and don’t know why. It takes courage just to walk into a yoga class for the first time. We find strength in asana and peace in opening our hearts. We come to the mat to move forward with ourselves. Sometimes that forward movement is deepening a posture other times forward movement is finding stillness in the mind. We persevere week in and week out on what challenges us. We listen. We learn. We ask questions. We revisit and try again. We change. We grow. We thrive. We evolve. We inspire.

Let's inspire each other!

Find Debbie W on the mat at Evolution:

Tuesdays, 5:15-6:16pm Basics and Beyond

Saturdays, 8:00-9:00am Basics and Beyond

Saturdays, 9:15-10:30am Mixed Levels

Restorative Yoga once a month, Sunday's 4:00-5:30 (check website for dates)

 

Yoga as Training Ground for Life

by Erin Ipjian

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I like to think of yoga practice as training ground for life. Within each posture is a lifetime’s worth of opportunities to explore and refine. Each pose is an invitation to identify where we are exerting needless energy, focus our attention and resources, and observe how we respond in the face of challenge or failure. We test the frailties of the ego by playing with our edge and learn over time to develop a genuine curiosity for the noise the mind creates both on the mat and off so that, ultimately, we can begin to see beyond it. 

The Power of Restorative Yoga

by Debbie Woods

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My teacher, Judith Hanson Lasater refers to Restorative Yoga as radical self care. I love this! Before I studied restorative yoga, I was like many thinking why would I want to spend time in what seemed like a few savasana postures when I could be at the gym, riding my bike or be on my mat with intense flow and arm balancing?

Eventually it all clicked & I realized that I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally the week following a restorative yoga class. Yes, all types of movement are great. But I saw the biggest change in myself after restorative yoga. I was able to think more clearly, be more productive, sleep more soundly and the list goes on. We live in a world where more intensity and speed are revered. But eventually, you burn out. This radical self care practice can help you reset and recharge. You’ll find that with radical self care you actually can accomplish so much more and (warning) you may find yourself accomplishing more with grace and ease.

Come practice restorative yoga on Sunday, June 10 at 4:00 Evolution Yoga Glenview. Sign up online to reserve your bolster.

Deepening your Practice

by Erin Ipjian

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"Don't believe everything you think." -Byron Katie

It's a common story we all have heard -- "I came to yoga to get more flexible/stronger, but what I found was so much MORE."

At the very beginning, we, as yoga practitioners, are often caught up in the physical details, "right foot forward, left food back, and where is my pelvis supposed to be?"  With practice, we start to sense positive shifts happening in our bodies and even discover that we can execute poses that we never thought possible.

As we spend more time on the mat, however, we begin to appreciate that the point of the practice is not nailing the perfect pose. Moving to the rhythm of the breath and refining the details of the poses all serve a deeper purpose -- to become more aware of the noise the mind creates and spend more time connected to the awareness that lives beneath our thoughts and emotions.

This week, we have two wonderful opportunities to delve a little deeper and explore the inner workings of the mind with two meditation and mindfulness classes:

Meditation Series with Polly, Thursdays, 5/10-5/31 5:30-6:30

Mindfulness for the Restless with Kira and Allison, Saturday, 5/12 3:00-5:00pm

Sign up to reserve your spot here.

Yoga: a Practice for Everyone

by Erin Ipjian

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I love the physical discipline of yoga practice - so much so that I practice it every day. When moving to the rhythm of the breath and refining the details of the poses, something magical happens. I can't always explain it, but I most certainly feel it. And I see it in the eyes of students at the end of a well-taught class. Something shifts. There is a sense of clarity and steadiness that we somehow reconnect with.
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My wish, as a teacher and studio owner, is for people to understand that yoga is for everyone. And while you may be (as most people are) initially drawn to the physical benefits of the practice, it has so many additional layers to offer, if you remain focused on the intent behind what you are doing on your mat.
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I am in love with this passage from Jon Kabat-Zinn on the purpose of yoga,
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"The appeal of hatha yoga is nothing less than the lifelong adventure and discipline of working with one's body as a door into freedom and wholeness. Hatha yoga was never about accomplishment or perfection, or even about technique by itself. Nor was it about turning one's body into an elaborate pretzel...To my mind, hatha yoga is potentially beneficial to huge numbers of people at every level of physical conditioning...
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For mindful yoga is a yoga of wholeness that has nothing to do with what your body can or can't do at any given moment, or with how your posture looks. It has everything to do with the sincerity of your effort, with how awake you are in your life, and how embodied you are in the only moment in which you are ever alive-- which is always now."

Check out our current class schedule here! We'll see you on the mat!