Monthly Archives: December 2012

Finding Grace Right Outside Our Window

by Martha Marcom

Here in the Short North, we are graced with lots of art! In addition to the general, colorful nature of our neighborhood with its diverse cast of characters, there are numerous galleries and some exciting public art. Two of these public art pieces have a direct Yoga on High connection. The first is entitled Shadows Extending, which is painted on the side of our building at 1081 N. High Street—easy to miss if you come to YOHI from the South, West or East!



Marty Husted created Shadows Extending, sponsored by Studios on High Gallery. This is one of ten works sponsored by local galleries along with the Short North Alliance.
Here is a link to a map of all ten of these “mini murals”.




Art is not eternal! This mural below will soon be gone, when construction for the offices of The Joseph Hotel begins in earnest.

The artists, Curtis Goldstein and Michelle Attras, were both students of Yoga on High a while back, when they were painting this mural. We hope to see them again one of these days--Curtis and Michelle, drop us a line!

This mural is a George Bellows painting. Bellows was a Columbus artist who worked and lived in the current home of two contemporary Columbus artists, the multi-talented Eric Marlow and YOHI’s own Gail Larned. Their home, which is now a stunning work of art in itself, was condemned when Larned/Marlow rescued and revived it. If you are from out of town, visiting YOHI, you could stay in this historic home. Here’s the link to pictures of the accommodations.


And just because I love it so, here is the long-awaited fountain at Goodale Park. Malcolm Cochran is the artist of this piece. He and many other people, especially the Friends of Goodale Park, are responsible for holding the vision and raising the money for this splashy art work. I admit that I saw no need for a new fountain at first, as I found the old pile of rocks which spurted water to be perfectly adequate, providing a soothing sound and aerating the pond. But this new fountain is a continual delight and is over-the-top outlandishly charming! The fountain pays tribute to the Wedding Gazebo near the pond, which is the setting for many weddings in all seasons. The spouting elephants refer to the historical Sells home, aka The Circus House, at the corner of Buttles and Denison. It was the home of the founder of the Sells Circus, and, as the story goes, some of the circus animals wintered in the basement of the manse. The fountain is glorious at night, and will be a vision when it freezes. Here it is in mid-autumn, shortly after it came on line!

We hope our YOHI students and many visitors will explore the liveliness of our neighborhood—the High Street shops as well as the shady back avenues of Victorian Village. Historic Goodale Park is a pleasant walk from our corner at High and 3rd Avenue and can’t be beat for enjoying the changing seasons right in the midst of the city. You may glimpse a wedding, joyous dogs at play, and the resident hawks, along with the magnolia groves, overflowing gardens and a very unique fountain!



I didn’t know there was such a concept as Humblebrag until I read about it in The New York Times (Style Section, Sunday, December 2, 2012), but I was already troubled by an undertow of backhanded self-congratulation in my own media posts. Humblebrag is a term coined by comedian Harris Wittels, a writer for the NBC series “Parks and Recreation.” It’s self-aggrandizement in the form of self-deprecation, and according to the article, it’s found its home via social media. The famous and near famous are particularly prone to it. Here are a couple examples from The Times article. “My emails send so slowly over here in Cannes! So frustrated!” “Why do men hit on me more in sweat pants?” “Honored and humbled to be included in @claudiachan’s profiles of global ‘remarkable women.’”

Blogging about yoga, it’s tempting to write a piece wherein I experience a mini-spiritual crisis, described or implied, and my yoga practices lead me to a happy resolution. All of us on the YOHI blog are prey to this narrative line. The reader, after many such blog posts, could be forgiven for wondering, are they ready for sainthood yet? The thing is, those stories are true. Yoga continues to offer us insight and direction on every level, helping us meet the challenges in our lives. But no matter how many times we realize another personal truth, we bump up against the imperfectability of the personality. See writings on the kleshas for one explanation as to why. Hopefully, our experiences are shared by you, the reader, and reading about them is of interest.

In this blog I’ve decided, in order to avoid false modesty, to brag outright. I’m looking back at 2012 and the accomplishments of the men and women who work and teach at YOHI with pride. Here are a few of the highlights.

• YOHI changed behind the scenes. Jasmine dragged us shuffling into the 21st century, hence the new website alive with pictures of YOHI teachers and students, our facebook presence, the ability to buy passes and workshops on the web, and the blog site itself. She also streamlined many business practices making it easier for the desk goddesses to addressed your needs and retain their sanity when the desk gets busy.
• The bookstore got a facelift and carries many new, interesting items including Young Living Oils, which figure in Urban Zen programs offered at YOHI.
• YOHI welcomed new staff members to keep up with expanding workloads and support new programs. We now have a program director for the Yoga on High Foundation, a scheduling coordinator, a marketing coordinator, a teacher training program administrator, an ashtanga teacher training director, and a Morning Mysore Club director. Amanda, who everyone knew as head goddess, stepped up to the role of office manager, and Brooke now focuses all her time on bookkeeping and financial analysis.
• The partnership changed. Two of the founding partners amended their roles. Martha cut back her time at the Center dramatically in order to travel with her newly retired husband, Jerry, and Linda stopped teaching asana classes. That was hard for us, but welcome. And we are proud of how we handled these emotionally loaded changes, taking them slowly enough to digest them. Marcia, thankfully, worked on as usual, and Jasmine became a partner!
• In 2012, The Yoga on High Foundation funded programs for veterans with PTSD, inner-city school children, sexual abuse survivors, and women prisoners. We wrote our first grant and received funding from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Columbus Affiliate, for the women’s cancer retreat that served cancer patients and oncology nurses. And Marcia laid the groundwork for yoga therapy sessions delivered in cooperation with various medical treatment facilities throughout Columbus.
• YOHI launched new programs in 2012 including the Morning Mysore Club, the Prenatal Teacher Training Program, OM vinyasa and hot yoga classes, expanded Urban Zen offerings, and the Yoga on High Book Club. And we moved to continuous programming—no more quarterly breaks! We had a fuller roster of fascinating and proficient guest teachers than in any previous year with a total of 300 hours of weekend or week-long programming to choose from.
• We laid the groundwork for more changes in 2013 including a revamped 200-hour teacher training program, 100-hour post-grad specialties in Ashtanga yoga and vinyasa yoga and a 500-hour yoga therapy program. We also worked toward offering the Urban Zen practitioners’ training in Ohio in 2013.
• The programs that have been in place for 12 years still retain their relevancy, vitality, and level of excellence, undiminished by all the new activity. Those familiar ashtanga and hatha public classes, along with the new vinyasa classes, offer an approach to yoga for every “body.”
• Pinched for space, we looked for an additional location for Yoga on High and found it in November. Just around the corner from 1081 North High Street, we will be opening the Yoga on High Teacher Training Institute, a studio for workshops and teacher training programs.

Change never occurs without some sense of loss. People told us that they didn’t feel we were as accessible to them as before. They liked rounding the corner and seeing us working in the back office. They could stop and chat. There are so many of us now that we can’t all fit in the back office, and we do much of our work from home, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t available. If you would like to talk by phone or get together for tea, let us know. We don’t want to lose touch!

At the YOHI staff holiday dinner, I looked around the table at the talented and committed Yoga on High team with pride. We pump a lot of work through the good intentions of 12 smart women! The same sense of awe and gratitude overtook me at YOHI teachers’ meetings. The teachers show unflagging dedication to their yoga practices and their students. All of us take pride in our community and the work done at YOHI by everyone who enters its doors—staff, teachers and students.

Let’s meet again in 2013!


This World We’re Creating

My blog this week links to a slideshow that showcases the retreat we offered to women with cancer and oncology nurses this past October. As I look at the pictures and the smiling faces here I remember so clearly how each woman looked younger and more relaxed with each passing day. Perhaps that was true of the staff as well.

As we envisioned this retreat earlier in the year, we knew there were yoga classes for people with cancer throughout the city. We wanted something else—a chance for a group of women—those with cancer and those working with cancer patients—to come together for 2 full days and nights away from their homes and their usual cares and duties. We wanted to care for them personally and give them a chance to rest deeply so they could return to their families and lives refreshed and armed with tools that could help them stay that way. They weren’t used to such coddling and it took a bit of convincing at first for them to let us give them that much attention to get the poses just right or offer yet another round of reiki. But, by the end of the retreat, they were eagerly asking for one more blanket to get a little more comfortable and were speaking up to ask for reiki and essential oils. There were many moments of courage, of fun and laughter, of tears, of conga lines during our evening dance party, of important conversations at meals and during breaks, of walks in the woods in the perfect fall weather, and the glee of great food without cooking or dishes to clean up! There was a full out sense of rightness in those few days that continues to resonate with me.

A note about the slideshow: thanks to Michele Vinbury and Michelle Fullmer for the many beautiful photos. You won’t see them in many pictures because they were behind the camera but they offered much support during the retreat in addition to their photography.

About the music: Bernie McKnight, slideshow organizer extraordinaire, and I spent most of a week looking for just the right music to go in the background and to get the rights for it. This part of the project was not going well. With a past due deadline we took a break and I went to a workshop on Nonviolent Communication where the duo of kRi and Hettie was performing live music. Their second song was clearly the song that needed to be part of our slideshow and the hair was standing up on my arms as I heard it. At the break I asked them if we could use it and they gave us permission on the spot. I called Bernie, gave her the link and the rest is here for you to enjoy. Thanks to them again for their honest, uplifting and upbeat song.

Our next retreat: On Saturday, May 11 we will be offering the next retreat for people with cancer at Yoga on High’s new workshop space at 1020 Dennison Ave. The day before Mothers Day seems right. This in-town retreat will be one full day which will allow us to serve more people (including men this time) for less money. A those people who wanted to volunteer for the last retreat can be part of this one—bringing their reiki hands and restorative yoga skills to the program.

We are creating partnerships with local funders but are also happy to take your tax-deductible donations as well. You can donate here (enter in Yoga on High Foundation and specify program). Stay tuned….so much more to come!


Featured Teacher: Gail Spirit Sky

Why do you practice?
To find new ways to teach my students about restoratives.

Why do you teach?
Because I love to share ways to feel better on and off the mat.

All my fellow teachers and the dedicated students.

Who have you trained with?
Many teachers over the years, but most often with Judith Lasater

What style do you teach?
Hatha yoga…and restorative yoga.

What’s your favorite food?
salads with rice and beans

Do you own any animals?
never had a pet

What’s on your playlist right now?
Deva Premal and Krishna Das

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
hearts of love

What style influences your teaching?
hatha with emphasis on meditation

Favorite yoga pose?

What are you reading?
I’m catching up on Yoga Journal magazines

Favorite quote?

 We don’t laugh because we are happy in Laughter yoga, we are happy because we laugh.

-Dr. Kataria.

What is your favorite TV show of all time?

What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?
I did choose my own name 14 years ago…the Spirit Sky part…I was Gail Lynn Williams

Your favorite item of clothing?
yoga pants

What did you want to be when you were little?
a teacher

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be?
an eagle

Do you dream in color?
no, I live in color.

What word describes you best?

What drives you every day?

Who do you admire?
all my yoga teacher friends

What is your mission?
to relax the world, one savasana at a time.

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
Daily, my husband David does kind things for me…hard to pick one.

Fun fact about you?
I love to grow my own veggies.


Winding Down

by Jasmine Astra-elle Grace
I have recently returned from a trip to Kripalu for an Art and Yoga Teacher Training Course with Kundalini master Hari Karin Kaur Khalsa. Kripalu is located in the Berkshire Hills of upstate NY. My trip was a perfect getaway and the first time, in a longtime, I had spent a significant length of time by myself, for myself. People had told me how wonderful Kripalu was and the recommendations were accurate.

My first day was a precursor for a life changing experience. On my arrival I was still wound up a little from preparing to leave home and work for 7 days. As I am sure many of you know, you have to work double time to leave town; a worthwhile necessity to allow time for personal and professional growth. You simply have to make the time to work on yourself. Often when you do you are rewarded in ways that can shift your understanding, experiences, and relationships, and how you interact with yourself and the world around you. It seems the ancient philosophers had the answers years ago:

 He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.- Lao Tzu

I was at Kripalu, taking time to study yoga and art, two of my great loves that always lead to a greater connection to the Self. Whenever I visit a new place I have a tradition of scoping out my environment. Going for a run is a perfect way to do this. So I put on my running shoes, tied my fluorescent yellow laces and ran all over the property. Along the path I discovered a “walking” meditation maze. I stopped mid-run and gazed at the entrance. The space felt spiritual and energetically grounding – I went in and I “ran” the “walking” maze. As I ran past the reeds, grass, bushes and other fall vegetation I decided to take each step, each stride, mindfully while still keeping speed and honoring the purpose of the maze. I began to think how ironic it was that I was running a walking maze and how that may be a metaphor for certain aspects of my life. I kept running and with each stride and breath of cool air in and out I felt more alive. I kept the mindfulness. Is it OK to run through life as long as there is an element of mindfulness? Is this possible or must we be still to find mindfulness? I returned focus to the stride and the breath. I kept running all the way to the center; then I turned around and ran all the way back. I allowed the walking maze to act as a winding down, a letting go and an opening to the experiences that lay ahead. The perfect way to start my adventure!

When I got out of the maze I sat on the bench, facing the lake and watched the sunset as fat geese honked goodnight. A couple of rabbits hopped by to say “hello” to me – call me silly but I believe animals always have a message to tell us.

Someone had told me about the Kripalu bunnies and here they were. I looked up their meaning in my Medicine Cards (1988) by Sams and Carson (p. 157):

“It could also indicate the need to stop and take a rest. It will always indicate a time when you need to re- evaluate the process you are undergoing, and to rid yourself of any negative feelings, barriers, or duress. Simply put, you cannot have your influence felt until you rearrange your way of seeing the present set of circumstances.

There is always a way out of any situation, because the Universal Force does move on. It is the way in which you handle problems that allows you to succeed. Take a hint from Rabbit. Burrow into a safe space to nurture yourself and release your fears until it is time again to move into the pasture, clear of prowlers who want a piece of your juicy energy.”                                                                          

Hmmn .. interesting! I was at Kripalu to rest and reevaluate – it all felt so universally supported. Not to mention that it was a new moon week. I felt ready to do the spiritual work, the internal work, to learn more about myself, to release old patterns, and create space to find clarity to make the right choices. And so began my adventure. It was the first of many on the seven day experience at Kripalu. Needless to say I didn’t feel the urge to run the maze again – but I did walk it a few times!

Photography: Jasmine Grace’s iPhone


Featured Teacher: Jasmine Astra-elle Grace

Why do you practice?
I practice yoga for health, self-acceptance, compassion, devotion, and clarity of mind. I practice so I can teach from experience and I practice so that I may know my own true nature.

As a leader you constantly have to find ways to be inspired. I find my inspiration on my yoga mat, in nature, spending time with my daughter, painting, music, reading a good book, watching a good movie, reading inspirational quotes and poetry, perusing pinterest, cooking with fresh quality foods, and being with friends. I guess I find inspiration in everything – I love life for all of it!

Who do you admire?
My family, especially my husband Jeremy Grace and daughter, Ella Grace. My business partners, Marcia Miller, Linda Oshins, & Martha Marcom. My friends and my students.

Who have you trained with?
Maty Ezraty, Richard Freeman, Tim Miller, Matthew Darling, Cyndi Lee, Loren and Camille Roche, Doug Keller, Rodney Yee, Marcia Miller, Linda Oshins, Martha Marcom, Joanie Delph, Linda Chun, Taylor Hunt, and Hari Karin Khalsa.

What style do you teach?
Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Meditation, Art & Yoga, Slow Burn Candlelight Yoga, Business of Yoga, Yoga for Runners.

Do you own any animals?
Yes, a stray, tiger striped, grey cat who showed up at our door. We named him Shadow. He is pure love and knows Reiki. 

What’s on your playlist right now?
I love music: Trance Dance, Sting, Crowded House, Amos Lee, Snatam Kaur, Rolling Stones, Black Keys, and Adele!

What’s your favorite yoga accessory?
My Manduka Black Mat.

What style influences your teaching?
Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Cyndi Lee’s Om Vinyasa.

Favorite yoga pose?
Urdhva Danurasana (Wheel)

Favorite quote?

Our thoughts create our world -- Buddha

What is your favorite TV show of all time?
I don’t watch much TV. By choice we don’t have cable/TV. I do like a good secret spy movie though!

What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name?
Jasmine Astra-elle Grace. I often tell people I married my husband for his last name not his good looks! That always gets a smile.

Your favorite item of clothing?
Lululemon Yoga Pants, of course – they are the best and last for a long time.

What did you want to be when you were little?
A healer/doctor.

In the animal kingdom, which animal would you be?
A horse or a snake. Different animals for different periods in my life. The horse is a symbol of strength, loyalty and perseverance. The snake represents transformation and change.

Backpacking or a luxury hotel?
Both, with no attachment to either. Just accept and enjoy what is. I recently went to Kripalu and stayed in a dorm with 20 others and it was fun.

What words best describe you?
Catalyst. Inclusive. Collaborative. Visionary. Entrepreneur. Spiritual.

Fun fact about you?
I collect mortars and pestles.

Why do you teach?
I teach to inspire a daily yoga and meditation practice and to help people feel more alive in their own body! I want us all to be more “awake” on and off the mat. I see yoga as a way to heal -- inside and out by helping us soften into accepting who we are, right here, right now.


Choose Heaven

By Martha Marcom

We were traveling to Cincinnati to see our family and were coordinating the trip with our daughter, Mara, who was also driving south on I-71 from Columbus to Cincy. I called her cell phone and said, “We just passed ‘Hell is real.’ Where are you?”

I have passed this ominous sign many times and I must say that it is a real conversation starter for my mind.

I have thought “I’ll just bet hell is real for you, mister, and that life is hell for those around you.”

I have thought of the complex map of Buddhist cold and hot hells. The complexity and specificity of this, along with Dante’s Inferno and all of the imagery it has inspired, does give one pause.

I have pondered the fact that almost every religion has some notion of an afterlife and many of these involve reward and punishment. However, all of this hellishness can be considered symbolic and not the actual punishment of an unfathomably vast universe that brought us the Grand Canyon, Mozart, dogs and babies.

I have wondered just what kind of hell this person envisions. Hands-on torment from a gleeful, hoofed torturer and hellfire? And I’ve wondered what constitutes a sin in the sign maker’s eyes.

I noticed that I believe that “Hell is Real” is a choice and have wondered why anyone would choose the threat of hell for themselves and wish it on others?

But now I have the thought that maybe it is not a choice for the sign-maker and I’ve begun to think about this more compassionately, as my Non-Violent Communication training and the teaching of the first yoga yama, Ahimsa, finally kicked in!

I’ve become curious about the motivation for the sign. Perhaps I am not being condemned to hell here. This person (who I’d judged to be a man among other assumptions) went to a great deal of trouble and possibly some expense to erect this sign. Maybe in taking this level of care, he was deeply worried about the state of the world and the fate of all of the souls who passed his land. Perhaps this sign is a well- intended incentive to get people thinking--it certainly worked in my case!

I have at times feared that hell would be my fate, and experienced some relief to read a recent Newsweek cover story about a neurosurgeon’s experience with heaven in an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, M D. While in a coma, Dr. Alexander visited an exquisitely beautiful and joyful place of unity where he received the instruction that there is nothing to fear, that we are all loved and cherished dearly and forever.

This loss of fear and the recognition of the unity of all things is also a description of realizing our true nature—Self realization.

Going forward, when I pass that sign that has triggered so much wonder and emotion in me, I will embrace Marcia’s ahimsa practice of not having an enemy image of the person who posted this sign. In shifting to this more magnanimous state of mind, I can connect to this person in some important way and am able to see that the message of this sign was to issue a heart-felt warning, an offering on his part. I can glimpse the humanity of this person and see that we are fellow travelers on this mysterious, difficult, wondrous road of life.

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