Linda Chun and Morning Mysore

LindaChun

Linda Chun

I am into my fifth month of teaching morning Mysore. Over the last several months I’ve had the chance to observe and contemplate things in a renewed way. Communicating so publically is not my natural tendency. However, I wouldn’t want people to misinterpret my fly-under-the-radar style as lack of interest or reflection. So here I am to share some thoughts.

The thing that I find myself coming back to repeatedly is this: The practice is the teacher.

I first started practicing ashtanga yoga 15 years ago. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of Columbus’ ashtanga community, which has been around for at least that many years. Our awesome city draws the finest visiting teachers. We are home to passionate yogis who were dedicated to establishing ashtanga yoga here. This includes our very own, Martha Marcom. I’m forever grateful.

Because life as a medical student and resident often meant an inflexible schedule, my yoga practice early on incorporated a good amount of self-practice. I’d be on my mat at different random hours of the day or evening. Ashtanga anchored me through this intense period. I first met my teacher Maty Ezraty in 2004, who at that time lived and taught in Santa Monica at Yogaworks. I’d study with Maty every opportunity I could during trips to LA. Then I’d come home and practice on my own.

I still remember so clearly the feeling in her Mysore room. There was a deep, palpable focus in the room. Whenever I showed up, I would see the same students, steadily and mindfully practicing. Some students’ practices were quite advanced, but none of it ever seemed showy or dramatic or fancy. This is Maty’s teaching. I learned from Maty’s room about turning attention inward with equanimity.

The way I see it, much of what goes on in a Mysore room is cultivation of self-study. In order to reach the depth of self-study required for transformation and healing, one needs, in my opinion, to develop a strong self-practice. Getting on your mat is the first step, but then what? To me, this is the juice of Mysore. The practice is the true teacher. The ashtanga sequence is not going to change. You could practice whether the teacher gave you an instruction that day or not. You are there for methodical, internal exploration — to check in, not check out.

I will not lie. Perhaps you have heard. I can seem a little picky when I teach. Why am I this way? Here is my chance to tell you if you haven’t yet asked me. For one, I want to help you pay closer attention. I like to encourage you to engage at a deeper level. It’s in the subtleties. Concentration on the subtleties connects your mind to what’s going on and awakens the postures energetically to allow for greatest benefit. This ability to inwardly focus needs to be practiced, unquestionably.

I like to encourage you to work hard. Whatever that means for you. Some students tend to push 110% and approach postures aggressively. These students’ work is to soften the breath, and focus on compassion and ease. Others may mentally wander or tend to just hang out in the poses. These students benefit from waking up the muscles and exerting more physical effort. Some students need a gentle nudge of encouragement to take risks. Sooner or later, with regular practice, ashtanga yoga will expose whatever it is you need. The practice will show you. I want to be there to help guide and support you.

Transformation through any type of practice requires hard work, humility, and staying present. My hope is that your yoga practice creates a sense of empowerment to shift should you discover patterns that do not serve you. My hope is that you learn to face difficulties with equanimity, steady breath, and bandhas engaged. I hope that you experience moments of release and joy during practice. These things are possible if you are paying attention. The practice is the teacher. You can then take whatever it is you learn on your mat out into your life and your relationships.

I approach teaching as I do also because I want to help you practice in a way that balances your body without compressive injurious pain. Ashtanga should feel good in the body. I believe it is important to look at energetic lines. When I see an area that looks compressed, my instruction will focus on lengthening to avoid injury and promote freer flow of energy. If I see an area that looks “sleepy”, my instruction will focus on awakening to stabilize and allow for full energetic integration of the pose. It’s not about over-analytically creating the most beautiful appearing asana on the outside. It’s about building a healthy body and mind, and helping you create the richest energetic experience on the inside.

I love how ashtanga yoga is simultaneously universal and individual. Forward progression is part of this system. It keeps us interested. We strengthen and become increasingly proficient in the established sequences. Yet the process is highly individual. How perfect! Methodically, we keep practicing to find our edge, yet at our own appropriate pace. I love working with Mysore students in this one-on-one fashion. If you come to class, you hopefully now understand why I may push you. And I hope ashtanga yoga — this brilliant tool — creates the space for you for personal insight and discovery.

Linda Chun has been teaching Mysore style Ashtanga yoga at Yoga on High for years. She is also a general internist and pediatrician at OSU Center for Integrative Medicine and various Nationwide Children’s Hospital Clinics. She also completed the Helms Medical Acupuncture Course. Click here for more information on Linda.

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Quantifying the Impact of Urban Zen

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy™ is a program that takes gentle yoga practices, along with Reiki and essential oil therapy, to patients in health care facilities, their families and their on-staff caregivers. It is designed to address the symptoms that often accompany illness and injury—pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and exhaustion. Urban Zen therapy is extended to patients’ family members and caregivers because some or all of these same symptoms arise in them as a result of the stresses around caring for a loved one or patient who is ill or dying .

Lauren Sobol, a Clinical Analyst at Wexner Heritage Village, did a research study on the efficacy of Urban Zen treatment as part of her Master’s Degree thesis. Lauren describes her work here.

In 2013, Wexner Heritage Village (WHV) became the first clinical setting in the Midwest to offer Urban Zen to its patients and staff. By May 1, 2015, more than 1,100 documented sessions have occurred throughout the WHV campus. My study focused on a sample of 500 encounters with patients who were admitted to hospice, long term care, memory care, rehabilitation, assisted living or independent living, as well as their family members and caregivers. The variables of interest were pain level, discomfort due to their primary symptom, length of their Urban Zen sessions and their heart rate. Their primary symptom may have been any one of the PANIC model symptoms (pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation or exhaustion). The measurements were taken before and after their Urban Zen sessions.

Day after day, I received Clinical Documentation Forms from Urban Zen therapists that were filled with narratives and rankings explaining what happened in each Urban Zen session. These reports were the basis for the study data.

My study hypothesized that pain and discomfort levels would decrease due to Urban Zen interventions. Pre/post modeling documented many significant results. As shown in the graph below, pain level decreased by an average of 1.4 units per session (0-10 scale based on Wong-Baker FACES® Pain Rating Scale). The rehabilitation care setting experienced the greatest impact on pain due to that fact that patients on that unit had more acute medical conditions rather than long-term, chronic conditions. The therapy showed the least impact on Hospice patients, likely due to their increased debility and the fact that they were often non-verbal.

Change in Pain after Urban Zen

Discomfort due to chief complaint was lessened an average of 0.88 units per session (0-10 scale). Heart rate decreased an average of 6.7 beats per minute. Individuals with higher levels of pain and discomfort before treatment benefited most from Urban Zen. A dose-response relationship was discovered with treatment time, showing that longer sessions were more impactful.

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy had an overall positive impact on the entire Wexner Heritage Village campus. The combination of modalities created a well-rounded intervention and led to meaningful improvements in patient care. The whole process around this research study was extremely informative and exciting to me, and makes me feel sure that the future is bright for Urban Zen research. Rodney Yee, a wise yoga teacher and the co-designer of the Urban Zen protocol, stated that, “Any doorway that leads you to a deeper understanding of who you are is worthwhile.” I hope to continue to help people understand the power of Urban Zen.

For additional information or the complete analysis, feel free to reach out to Lauren Sobol at laurengsobol@gmail.com.

Lauren Sobol Lauren Sobol has a special passion for Urban Zen. Her interest lies in analyzing the integrative therapy’s efficiency, which she does through her role as the Clinical Analyst at Wexner Heritage Village. At WHV she serves as the UZIT Program Manager and often receives Urban Zen therapy herself, a benefit open to all WHV staff. Lauren received her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology from The Ohio State University this May. She is an active and dedicated volunteer in her community. In 2015, she received the Young Professional Volunteer of the Year Award from Jewish Family Services and the Excellence in Volunteer Community Service Award from The Ohio State University Office of Outreach and Engagement for her work with suicide prevention. Lauren has experienced the power of Urban Zen firsthand and hopes to continue spreading its reach through her analyses of its worth.

For information on training to become an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, please click here.

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Yogi of the Month: Lane

Meet Lane, this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month. Lane is a community building yogi committed to her yoga practice as well sharing the benefits of health and wellbeing as a Lululemon Polaris employee. Lane is a proud owner of a new Manduka eKo mat and hand towel. Learn more about this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month. Read More…

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Yoga Anywhere, Anytime

There are yoga poses and practices that are portable and easy to incorporate wherever you are. And they are powerfully effective, especially in the middle of your day. The following picture and note came from Rich Burke who is a helicopter pilot for Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He loves his job but every time he goes out it is because a child is sick enough to need a helicopter ride to the hospital. Thankfully there is a helicopter and a pilot to take the child to the hospital. Rich has been a dedicated yogi for a few years now and with his short hair and military bearing (just retired from service after many years) he can talk about yoga to other men and then tend to listen to him.

Enjoy!

My Med Crew and I had a long night last night. When things slowed down we stopped in the cafeteria at Children’s and talked about yoga, Urban Zen and self care. After we finished we had to wait for hospital security on the fourth floor of the hospital. (They have to be present when we take off or land at the hospital). Since we had a moment to wait my inner Yogi came out and my crew and I took a few moments for a bit of restorative yoga. Thank you, Marcia, Gail. Lori, and the rest of the YoHi staff for what I’ve learned from you all!! ~ Rich Burkeimage1

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Halfway Home – A blog from Martha

Dear Yoga friends,
This note was written by Martha Marcom, a beloved founding partner of Yoga on High, to family and a few friends but it was too good to hear from her and not share it. She knows you are reading it and sends her love to all of you as well.
Marcia

Dear Ones,

As I write this, we are just halfway through this world cruise—time to check in with my far away much-missed friends and family. This midway point comes as we are directly across the Earth in both time and distance—as far as we can be away from you. But now, as we leave Australia, we will come closer in time-zones and space. We are heading home.

I have had a miraculous journey so far. I arrived as a 90 pound weakling. Literally, even my shoes were too big. Empty bags of flesh hanging off of my bones, where my muscles used to be. I had to embark in January using a wheelchair, and now I am getting back to strong and up to 104. I offer humble thanks to my patient, determined, caring dear husband, who has shepherded me through this healing journey. We have been practicing yoga every morning at 5:30am on the dance floor of the ballroom, where we have a beautiful view of the day dawning. 5:30 is what it takes to get through a full ashtanga practice at a somewhat leisurely pace and be finished before Maria, the official yoga teacher, arrives to set up for her 8a class. It has taken all of this time to get back to the full circle of poses. Maria’s husband, Joe, is now joining us. This couple ,the Kitas, from PA, have been traveling the world teaching yoga for many winters now. So, to arise at 5, we have not been going to any of the evening entertainment or nightlife. Those mornings on the mat have been big medicine and I am so grateful to reclaim my yoga practice—and breath. And muscles.

We had weeks and weeks of just eating reading and resting and working back to the practice. I didn’t have the strength/endurance to really go ashore. It was in New Zealand that I really came back. It helped that my lovely sister, Connie, and bro-in-law Buzz arrived for this part of the journey and also that NZ is arguably the most beautiful place on Earth.

We began our NZ adventure with a hastily scheduled, unanticipated stop at the Bay of Islands when we could not tender into the inviting but rough waters of Roatonga, a magical-looking island—think Neverland—where we were planning a beach day in the turquoise waters, sugar white sands with a green volcanic mountain as the background. But, as everything is subject to change, off we went to the town of Paihia, NZ.

We’d met a lovely friend, Marc, from the Bay area of SF, with whom we’d planned an overland, overnight trip to the Bay of Islands before we (or anyone) knew about this impromptu add-on to our NZ itinerary. So we ended up going two times to the Bay of Islands, once by sea and the other by land. New Zealand is heart-stopingly, breathtakingly beautiful. The terrain is both lush and rugged and the land is an array of greens, and the sea is pinch-me, I’m-in-a dream aqua..with gorgeous mountains and islands.

We bought maps for the overland trip, had local beer at a cafe and explored a market. The next day Marc drove us out of Aukland in our rental Corolla—Marc figured that driving once in Great Britain in the ’80’s qualified him to drive on the “wrong” side of the road in the big city of Aukland and on the windy, mountainous two-lane roads. As wondrous as it is sailing along on the sea day after day,getting inside the country by land was a welcome change. There was constant beauty--no billboards and such flora as fern trees, occasional terraced hillsides, a legacy of the Maori. We took a ferry to Russell, a picture perfect old seaside town. Back in Paihia, where we spent the night at a hillside motel, we had fresh blueberry ice cream from a farmers market.

Our first impression of New Zealanders is that everyone is happy and friendly and loves their beautiful country. That didn’t change much as we traveled North to South.

I’ve only said a little about our travels but I’m longing to send this off and reach you while we have an internet connection. I will try again soon. Know that Jerry and I are thinking of you, would love to hear from you and look forward to seeing you again.

All love and every good wish,
Martha

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Yogi of the Month: Evan

Meet Evan, this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month. Although new to the Yoga on High community, Evan’s gentle nature and dedication to his yoga journey shines. He is a student in the March 200hr Teacher Training program and is excited to explore the many facets of yoga. Evan is a proud owner of a new Manduka eKo mat and hand towel. Learn more about this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month. Read More…

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Roger Cole: Long and Strong

I have studied many times with Roger Cole and love his excitement and joy of teaching and his blend of scientific rigor with great asana and pranayama teaching. He will be here April 24-25 with a program of interest to yoga students and teachers. In the meantime enjoy this article he wrote for the Yoga Journal a few years ago. -Marcia Miller

Long and Strong

by Roger Cole originally published at yogajournal.com

Stretching your hamstrings is a bit like leading a reluctant mule. If you pull the mule, it will pull back. But you can coax the mule along if you make friends with it. Help the beast relax, give it a nice place to go, and it will happily follow you. Read More…

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Yogi of the Month: Roberta

Meet this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month, Roberta!  Roberta is a student who stands out because of her friendly demeanor and her willingness to open her heart and mind to the practice.  It is always a pleasure to have her smiling face in class. Read More…

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Yogi of the Month: Teresa

Meet this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month, Teresa Eigel!  Teresa is a dedicated yogini who is at Yoga on High whenever she is not traveling for her work.  She especially likes Michael Murphy’s classes for his expert adjustments and his ability to read the room to know what people need or want.  Teresa’s blog Peace, Love, Wholefood gives her the chance to explore and share her love of good food and her newfound self acceptance.  Yoga on High is pleased to partner with Manduka to feature Teresa this month!

Read More…

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