Monthly Archives: October 2012

Featured Teacher: Correna Starbuck

Why do you practice? To find the best version of myself.

Why do you teach? in hopes to give people a taste of the joy that yoga has given me.

Who have you trained with? The wonderful staff at YOHI.

What style do you teach? Ashtanga and prenatal.

What’s your favorite food? Butter, it makes everything taste better!

Do you own any animals? One senior kitty.

What’s on your playlist right now? Beacon by Matt Duncan, Form by Polica and Gypsy by Garden and Villa

What’s your favorite yoga accessory? A small purple block.

What style influences your teaching? Fun and sense of adventure. Is that a style?

Favorite yoga pose? The Kurmasanas. I love the jumping/lifting challenges here. Plus it’s such a great reminder of bit by bit, breath by breath.

Your favorite item of clothing? At this moment it is a vintage tuxedo jacket that I snagged from the thrift store. Next week, who knows!

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be? A sparrow. Little, friendly and curious but also happy to fly around on my own.

Backpacking or a luxury hotel? Luxury hotel, hands down!

Who do you admire? My grandmother. She had an everyday meditation practice in gardening and quilting that I still find inspirational.

Fun fact about you? i can snap with both hands. i just recently learned this is a thing!

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Featured Teacher: Marcia Miller

Join Marcia Miller for her open Hatha Level 3 class or one of several upcoming Holiday Restorative workshops.

  

Why do you practice? To stay humanly divine or is it divinely human? I want to live a life of freedom, service and joy and yoga seems to help.

Why do you teach? It’s how I learn and serve. There is nothing more satisfying than supporting someone in finding more peace and strength in his/her life.

Inspirations? The wide sky, my favorite trees (they seem so wise and patient), so many incredible yogis and poets who have gone before, my students!

Who have you trained with? SO many great teachers over the years—do you really want the list? Swami Satchidananda, BKS Iyengar, Ramanand Patel, Rodney Yee, Angela Farmer & Victor van Kooten, Richard Freeman, Aadil Palkivalha, Judith Lasater, Jean Couch, Noelle Christians Perez, Mary Schatz, MD, Tom Myers, Roger Cole and many others. Thanks to them all.

What style do you teach? eclectic hatha

What’s your favorite food? Fresh corn on the cob, garlic (how I met my husband)

Do you own any animals? A beautiful black cat that just returned to us after being gone for 4 months. Yay, Zappa.

What’s on your playlist right now? I’m hooked on Lama Gyurme and Brazilian Dance music.

Favorite yoga pose? I love so many of the arm balances but for resting give me viparita karani any day.

Favorite quote? “I just want to be fully alive, even if it kills me.” Kevin Eigel This one makes me smile every time.

What is your favorite TV show of all time? the Wire

Your favorite item of clothing? The first sweater I made that fits me!

Backpacking or a luxury hotel? I must admit I do like a bed at night these days but not a luxury hotel—too boring. I like a hotel with a dedicated owner who can help me understand the place where I have traveled to.

What word describes you best? I asked my husband and he said, “competent, friendly, steady.”

What drives you every day? A passion to fulfill my dharma—to be myself in the fullest sense of that. Which may end up being no one in particular—stay tuned.

Who do you admire? People who know how to say yes and give of themselves, but also know when to say no.

What is your mission? to see the beauty in everyone (including myself).

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you? The thing that popped into my mind was something Martha did for me. My first darling daughter died after 3 days of life. I had her at home in a wonderful yet challenging birth. Once she was gone no one thought to ask me about the birth but Martha. She courageously gave me the opportunity to talk about that powerful experience even though I was devastated by loss. This was one of so many kindnesses that I have received over my life from many many people.

Fun fact about you?  I’m always reading at least 10 books at the same time—many by my bedside and others on CD in the car.

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By Marcia Miller

Well Being and Can I Have More of It?

This was the topic of a lecture I attended last week given by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., father of Positive Psychology as he is often called. Instead of asking what is wrong with someone, he has been asking what are the qualities that cross time and culture that have promoted the highest level of emotional health and the kind of resilience that makes it possible to heal from painful and traumatic events including PTSD. These qualities include wisdom/knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. These qualities can be measured and learned in order to enhance the well being of an individual as well as an entire community.

Seligman defined well being with the acronym PERMA, which stands for:

P-Positive Emotion The positive emotions that were most closely predictive of who grows stronger when challenges are present are religiousness, gratitude, kindness, hope, and bravery.

E-Engagement, or the ability to be totally absorbed in flow. The crucial determining factor of what it takes to be in flow is that our strengths are just strong enough to match the challenge.

R-Good relationships These must often be fostered through skill building, especially if healthy relationships were not modeled for you in your childhood.

M-Meaning and purpose in life. For Seligman, this means belonging to and serving something bigger than oneself. He quoted research showing that those people who did simple altruistic acts found that their entire day improved, while people who experienced pleasure were only pleased briefly, while the pleasing stimuli lasted.

A-Achievement Self discipline and grit are twice as important as IQ in terms of personal growth and achievement of one’s personal and professional goals.

After the talk I mused about how this all fits into my understanding of yoga and a couple of things came to mind. There is a way of practicing yoga that relates to PERMA that I call Yoga for Thriving. This is not yoga where we focus only on healing our aches and pains. Relieving pain is a valid reason for practicing yoga, but it is not the only goal—so much more is possible. We can also use yoga to enhance our well being in just the ways Seligman suggests.

The positive emotions can be easily and consciously cultivated in a yoga class or practice. Gratitude and kindness, for example, can be practiced every moment and can transform a mechanical pose into one of delight and wonder. I have seen many students be so brave in a yoga class. For students who worry that they might not be as thin or as flexible as others in a class, just showing up is an act of bravery. And I have often interacted with students who cannot imagine they could do a handstand or a deep backbend, yet try anyway, despite their fear.

Working with fear moves beyond positive emotion into Engagement and Flow. “Flow,” as defined by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, has a very specific meaning to psychologists. Here is a quote from Seligman’s most recent book, Flourish.

          The second element, engagement, is about flow: being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. I refer to a life lived with these aims as the “engaged life.” Engagement is different, even opposite, from positive emotion; for if you ask people who are in flow what they are thinking and feeling, they usually say, “nothing.” In flow we merge with the object. I believe that the concentrated attention that flow requires uses up all the cognitive and emotional resources that make up thought and feeling.

          There are no shortcuts to flow. On the contrary, you need to deploy your highest strengths and talents to meet the world in flow….Hence, the importance of identifying your highest strengths and learning to use them more often in order to go into flow.

When we practice yoga at the level where we are deeply challenged but within our capabilities, given our strengths, we are more likely to experience that sense of total engagement that results in the joy of flow. For make no mistake—flow is characterized by a sense of joy and absorption. Often as teachers or practitioners we focus only on what is wrong in a pose, rather than what is working. Instead, the next time you get on your mat find the challenges and strengths in every pose. Can you feel the strength of your arms and legs in dog pose, staying for 5 or 10 breaths and then floating to the ground or into the next pose as light as a feather? Even if your body is sore and not feeling light as a feather, notice what it can do. Notice how much your body can do even as it hurts, and give thanks for that. Can you feel a sense of kindness toward all parts of yourself? Can you feel the power and discipline of coming again and again to this practice, even when you don’t feel like it? What are the questions you want to ask yourself to help you flourish on and off the mat? Let’s talk together and share what we learn. Leave your comments here or on Facebook or talk to me in class.

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Featured Teacher: Gail Larned

Join Yoga on High teacher Gail Larned for a variety of open classes, including Hatha Mixed Level, Hatha Level 2, Modified Primary.

    

Why do you practice?
I practice because it keeps me centered and makes me a better teacher. We teach from what we know, so practice is important.

Why do you teach?
I can’t imagine not teaching. I’m constantly humbled by students who say my classes have changed their lives. I teach to help people find santosha and peace in their lives and bodies. I teach because I must.

Inspirations?
Nature, trees, my daughters. Georgia O’Keefe.

Who have you trained with?
I’ve been blessed to have studied with so many awesome teachers. Guruji, Rodney Yee, Tim Miller, David Swenson, Cyndi Lee. And Marcia Miller, my first serious teacher.

What style do you teach?
My background is Hatha, but from the time I first tasted Ashtanga, I was hooked. So, I teach both styles.

What’s your favorite food?
Crab. My grandson’s fav too. He’s 6.

Do you own any animals?
We have Ruby, our calico kitty. We’ve had Black Labs, but are currently dog-less.

What’s on your playlist right now?
Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album. I’m a child of the Beatles. I love all the old rock n roll. Krishna Das, Bob James and David Sanborn. I also enjoy classical music, esp. piano.

Favorite yoga pose?
easy pose -- Paschimottasana hard pose -- Ardha Chandrasana

Favorite quote?
“Practice and all is coming” Pattabi Jois

What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?
Santoshi. I love the concept and it has a nice ring to it.

Your favorite item of clothing?
My cowboy boots that are falling apart.

What word describes you best?
Optimistic

What drives you every day?
Going out there to see what’s going to unfold.

What book(s) are you currently reading?
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar and Emmanuel’s Book III

Who do you admire?
Barack Obama

What is your mission?
To be Love in the world.

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
That’s a hard one. There are so many angels in my life. I’d have to say my husband for sticking by me through the hard times.

Fun fact about you?
I’m a direct descendent of Lady Godiva.

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Featured Teacher: Angie Hay

Angie Hay has been practicing yoga since 1998, and it was love at first Savasana. She teaches Hatha Level 1 on Tuesdays at 5:45 and Om Vinyasa on Saturdays at 8:30.

Why do you practice?
I practice because I want a strong healthy body to carry me forward in life. I practice because the body is a mystery to me and I can catch glimpses of its truth on my mat. I practice because I don’t like how not practicing feels. I practice because there is a jabbering “insect” inside my brain that will occasionally hush if I can stay with the practice long enough.

Why do you teach?
I teach because it took me years to understand that I was allowed to use my body. I have never looked like a basketball player or a ballet dancer or a yoga model, and I thought that meant that my body was only meant to read books and stay still. A magical teacher helped me understand that even the movements of my imperfect body could be beautiful and right, and I feel a responsibility to stand in front of people in my skin and try to spread that message as far as it will go.

Inspirations?
Kurt Vonnegut. Inga Muscio. Emma Goldman. Carolena Nericcio. Isadora Duncan. Aaron Cometbus. Inanna. Kali. Ganesh.

What’s your favorite food?
I switched over the vegan eating earlier this year, so you can add the word vegan in front of any dessert name and I’ll be all about it. Also avocado, almond butter, and veggie sushi night at Hal & Al’s.

What’s on your playlist right now?
I am listening to Pilgrimage (MC Yogi) and Jahta Beat: the Lotus Memoirs (DJ Drez) and I can’t get enough. When I’m not in the mood for yoga music, it’s Ladacris, the Twilight Singers, or an incredible bellydance band named Helm.

Favorite yoga pose?
Vrschikasana, Scorpion Pose. I can’t do it, but I have promised myself that if I ever I can, I’m going to throw a party and make all my friends congratulate me.

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
My So-Called Life. If you were a teenager in the 90s, you already know.

Your favorite item of clothing?
Hoodie dresses make me weak in the knees. I thought I loved hoodies, but when I met the hoodie dress, it was a whole new story.

What did you want to be when you were little?
When I was in the 2nd grade, I wanted to be president, but a helpful boy classmate told me that women aren’t allowed to do that job. Twenty-eight years later, I am still waiting for him to be proven wrong. After that, I planned to be a talented-but-impoverished writer, kind of like Edgar Allen Poe. By the time I got to high school, I had started playing bass guitar and felt pretty confident that the whole rock star thing was right around the corner. It wasn’t.

What is your mission?
My mission is to expand the concepts of health and beauty to include more than just a certain weight, a certain race, a certain age. I want to blow the roof off of all that by helping people unlock the magic that they keep hidden out of fear. I want a world in which everyone can look at his or her mirror with a wink and a bit of a smile.

What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
My life was literally, utterly, and delightfully changed when I met my partner, Zach Beery. His commitment to supporting my dreams, allowing my fluctations, and creating a happy home have over the last 12 years become the deep roots of everything I try to do. I’m a lucky girl and have been the recipient of lots of generosity and kindness in my life, but that one just takes the cake.

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Fog Blog

Marybeth Hamilton is a mindfulness teacher who works with prison inmates and with teenagers in the Columbus public schools. She will be posting reflections about her programs on the first Thursday of every month. She can be reached at marybethhamilton13@gmail.com.

Early last Friday morning, as the sun edged over the horizon, I drove thirty miles out of Columbus to a women’s reformatory, where I teach a weekly class in mindful awareness. I’ve done this for the past five months, working with inmates preparing for transition, first-time offenders who are nearing their date of release. Ordinarily the trip takes me 45 minutes, but on Friday I got there early, so I drove past the prison gates and parked by a cornfield. Fog had descended just before dawn, and the rising sun and fields and trees were shrouded in thick banks of mist. I sat in stillness immersing myself in the eerie beauty, soaking up the dim, hazy light.

Ten minutes later I arrived at the prison to find that the fog that I had been savoring had prompted a security alert. Preventing escapes and ensuring safety requires an unobstructed view of the grounds, all the way to the barbed wire fence. The moment that the mist descended, the prison staff activated the “fog plan”. Inmates were instructed to return to their rooms, and then the guards would do a headcount. Once every woman was accounted for, my students could emerge and our class could begin.

As a novice teacher in a reformatory, I regularly confront these kinds of moments: when my perceptions of the world are upended, when the meaning of familiar things radically shifts. Inside the prison gates, even the most benign objects can transmute into dangers. Back in May, when I planned my first class, I hoped to begin with a classic mindfulness exercise: handing each woman a raisin so she could look at it deeply, feeling it, smelling it, rolling it between her fingers, even listening to the sounds it emitted, before finally putting it into her mouth. I had to abandon the plan when I learned that bringing in food, of any sort, is usually forbidden, and that raisins always are: they can be a source of intoxication, since inmates can hoard them to make wine.

Those kinds of experiences make my job challenging, but they also make it exceptionally rewarding. The aim of mindfulness practice, after all, is to open us up to fresh perception, to peel away the layers of preconception that prevent us from experiencing each moment anew. “Before familiarity can turn into awareness, the familiar must be stripped of its inconspicuousness”, wrote the playwright Bertolt Brecht. “We must give up assuming that the object in question needs no explanation”. Every time I step through the prison gates, I find familiar objects that need new explanations. Nothing, I realize, can be taken for granted – not fog, not raisins, and certainly not freedom.

Marybeth Hamilton

 

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