On Aging

marcia-3982_0_0By Marcia Miller

As I write this I’m on my way home from teaching a weekend yoga workshop to a group of people over 50. One of the most meaningful parts of the workshop for me was the time we spent answering the question, “What do you know now that you didn’t or couldn’t have known when you were 20 or 30?”

The wisdom in the room was felt viscerally, as one person after another offered a phrase or two about something they had learned, often with a poignant story from their lives as examples. One woman described an unexpected acceptance of life’s difficulties, despite a deep longing for health and happiness for all. Another described understanding her own mother’s maxim, “This too shall pass.” She shared the face she used to make when her mother would say that, but lately she realizes her mother was correct. You may know that saying, that our parents get smarter as we get older? This turned out to be true for her. Another described a life in which his longtime question, “How do I get this right?” evolved into more interesting questions, including, “What can I learn from this situation?” Or, “What are my choices here?” It was quite a relief to not have to always get “it” right, whatever “it” is. We heard one woman speak movingly of a hard-won realization that she could not control the world around her. Life can take us to our knees, and, while painful, the lessons are precious.

Most spoke of a deeper understanding of what is really important in their lives now, having lost loved ones or faced death themselves. This clarity allows them to let go of that which is not important anymore and move on. And of course—love. We spoke of realizing that the essence of life is love—it all comes down to love.

These are likely ideas that we all heard when we were younger, but what I saw this past weekend was embodiment. Life turned concepts and ideas into lived experience that we could embody as truth.

In a culture where youth is revered and our elders are often invisible, I was inspired by us this weekend. Personally, my 20s were painful for me in many ways that I would never want to return to. I was naïve and judgmental, often sure I knew what was best for everyone around me. I was also earnest and caring, but without many of the skills I have now that make my life so rich and meaningful. Those of us in of 50s, 60s and beyond have lived life, earning our grey hair, our wrinkles and our shining eyes, and, to some, we are invisible. But our lives do not depend on being noticed—they are precious and empowered either way.

Marcia Miller was one of the original co-founders of Yoga on High, was the genesis behind The Yoga on High Foundation, teaches yoga classes on the public schedule, and runs many of the upper level specialty studies at Yoga on High, such as the Urban Zen program and the Therapeutic Teacher Training Program. She teaches workshops throughout the US, this workshop on yoga and aging as an example.

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Making Ghee – Power in a Pad of Butter

by Jasmine Grace

In the Ayurvedic Program at Yoga on High, we are making ghee this weekend. Ghee is clarified butter, and it has a multitude of health and cooking benefits, good for the body, mind and spirit.

How to Make Ghee

The making of ghee can be a very beautiful and peaceful experience. As you make it, be mindful. Perhaps chant and infuse the process with the vibrations and frequency of love and healing.

IngredientsIMG_1958
Grass fed organic unsalted butter (salted butter can be used but it will foam more. I prefer unsalted.)

Method
Place butter in a clean, dry, medium-sized, heavy-bottom sauce pan.

Cook uncovered on medium heat until the butter melts. Throughout the entire ghee-making process, stir the butter occasionally. The butter will start to boil and foam, and you will hear a crackling sound. Once it reaches a boiling point, reduce the heat to low and simmer the butter until the foam forms on the top of it. You will need to part the foam to see the melted butter getting clearer.

Continue to simmer the butter until the crackling subsides. How long the process takes depends on how much butter you are clarifying.

You know ghee is ready when:

  • Crackling stops, which is an indication that the moisture has been cooked away
  • Under the foam film, the butter becomes a golden yellow liquid
  • The milk solids separate and settle in the bottom of the pan, and are light brown in color

Be careful not to overcook the ghee and burn the milk solids. When burned, they turn a dark brown and/or the liquid ghee will be dark brown.

When the butter is clarified, remove the pan from the heat and let the ghee cool for about 30 minutes, then pour it through a fine strainer lined with 1 layer of muslin. Strain it multiple times, if necessary, to ensure that all the milk solids are strained out.

Pour the ghee into a clean, dry glass jar. Do not place a lid on the jar until the ghee has fully cooled. Ghee can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 months.

Why Ghee?

IMG_19999999999It is high in nutrition: Ghee is rich in vitamins A, E, K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if it is sourced from grass fed cows).

It has a high smoke point for cooking (482 °F).
Unlike many other oils you can cook and fry with ghee, and it will not break down into free radicals

It has a great buttery taste but doesn’t prompt reactions to dairy allergies
Ghee is made from butter, but the milk solids and impurities have been removed so that most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee.

It supports digestive health
Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that is beneficial to intestinal bacteria used to support intestinal wall health. Ghee can also stimulate the secretion of gastric acid. Consuming ghee therefore supports overall digestive health.

It can support the mind and spirit

The mind and body are directly connected. Modern science teaches us that there is a chemical nature to our emotions. Our negative emotions can release hormones and chemicals that are stored in fat. When used properly in a cleanse regimen, ghee can help cleanse (oleate) these tissues and pull the toxins from the body, positively effecting our emotional state. Ghee has a sattvic (clear and balanced) quality. Sattvic foods promote positivity, growth and expansion of consciousness.

Uses of Ghee

  1. For massage (Abhyanga): It is said that 60% of what we place on our skin is absorbed into the body, bypassing the digestive system. This allows ghee’s qualities to penetrate directly into the tissues.
  2. In cleanses (Panchakarma): a small amount of ghee, taken first thing in the morning to oleate the internal organs and “dissolve” the ama or toxic wastes in the tissues, allows toxins to be carried to the digestive tract for elimination.
  3. It is a carrier for herbal formulas: Ghee is used in Ayurveda as a carrier for medicinal herbal preparations so that they are transported to and absorbed by targeted areas of the body, deep in the tissues (dhatus).
  4. To support bowel movements: one or two teaspoons of ghee first thing in the morning, followed immediately with a cup of hot water, will promptly produce a bowel movement. It will also warm the body quickly. Two spoonfuls of ghee in warm (non-homogenized) milk before bedtime is soothing to the nerves, lubricates the intestines and facilitates a bowel movement in the morning.
  5. For cooking: Due to its high burn point, ghee is one of the best cooking oils.
  6. For oil-pulling: Excellent for swishing through teeth (1 tablespoon) to improve the health of the teeth and gums.
  7. For bathing: Mix ghee with several drops of an essential oil and place the mixture in your bathwater for a nurturing bath.
  8. For a topical treatment: Ghee is excellent to put on topically for both chemical or fire burns and scrapes on the body.
  9. In the eyes: A small drop of room temperature ghee can be used in the eyes for lubrication and eye fatigue. This is best done at night before bed as a small film of ghee will cover the eye until it is absorbed into the tissue.

10. Facial use: Ghee can be used as a make-up remover and moisturizer for the face.

11. Nasal use: Use a few drops in each nostril after Neti pot use, or if you get a nosebleed, or to alleviate nasal dryness.

12. To balance the Ayurvedic Doshas: Ghee can increase Kapha and decrease Vata and Pitta.

IMG_1999999

The Yoga on High Teacher Training and Ayurveda Institute: School of Ayurveda has certifications in wellness counseling in Ayurvedic Health Education (A.H.E) and Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (C.A.P). Our next program begins in October 2015.

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Yoga & Trauma

My first experience with EMBER Yoga was over a year ago. I asked the Ember yoga instructor, Michele, kind of tongue and cheek, if she would teach me how to do a headstand. It was at that time that my whole life had changed. I know, I know, this sounds too cliché. My life now is learning to embrace being present through yoga movements. With this presence, I am also learning to cope with past traumas, and I am now looking forward to a future. I never thought I could live a life that I would enjoy.

With the EMBER series and Ashtanga Beginner class, I noticed that I felt included. Michele always ask us if we had any questions, comments, or concerns. Well, yeah. We’re doing yoga, right? I would practice what I learned in class, but couldn’t do it like I did just a couple hours beforehand. I was told patience, everybody is overwhelmed, and learning yoga can take lifetimes. My questions weren’t ignored or not heard. Different. Like, I mattered.

Okay, now the tough part. The triggers. I remembered specifically that Michele said that yoga is sometimes weird. I think at that particular time she was talking about the Ujjayi breathing technique. I admitted to her that I felt I was not able to stay present hearing this breathing. She said that voicing my concern was appropriate and she would help me stay present and would give me some reminders on how I could do this on my own.

During my struggles to stay present, I noticed that within these classes I felt safe. This took some time. At the end of each class, when we would do the Savasana, I am not sure why, but in both of these classes, sometimes, tears would roll down my cheeks. This was a pretty new experience for me. Didn’t understand how this was to be, the absorption of what I just learned had turned to tears.

As in other parts of my life, I started to make goals, challenges, for a yoga future beyond the six weeks series. I really did want to learn to stand on my head. Michele sent me an article on how to build up strength by doing the dolphin pose after teaching it in class one day. I read the article and looked at the pictures and got on my mat. I got my butt up in the air and I immediately broke down and started to cry. It was at this very time I learned about acceptance. I finally accepted the sexual assault. I accepted that I was not strong enough to do a headstand NOW, but I would work on this endeavor so maybe in a month or so, I could be closer to having my feet up in the air.

I can now talk about what happened to me. I don’t have to be strong enough. I don’t have to be anything enough. I just…be present.

Laurie R.

Michele Vinbury, lead instructor in the Ember program, in headstand.

Michele Vinbury, lead instructor and co-creator of the EMBER program, in headstand.

The EMBER classes are sponsored by the Yoga on High Foundation. For more information on the Foundation, please click here.

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Yogi of the Month: Paula

Paula truly takes advantage of so much of what YOHI has to offer.  We regularly see her in hot flow and sekoia classes, in hatha and ashtanga classes and in restorative and pranayama classes too.  She can do it all!  We are inspired by her dedication to showing up on the mat, by her adventurous navigation of our schedule and by her ability to see the “yoga” in all of these varied practices and paths -- that is true flexibility 🙂  We are thrilled to recognize Paula as our Manduka Yogi of the Month.   Read More…

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And the Journey Continues

yohigh_152By Gail Larned

I had been studying and practicing Hatha yoga for about 10 years before I started practicing Ashtanga, in 1998. When I first saw people practicing Ashtanga, I was hooked: “I want to do what they’re doing!” I taught a yoga class at Grant Hospital at the same time as the Primary Series class at Yoga on High and couldn’t attend it. I’d arrive at YoHi to see all of those sweaty, jubilant Ashtangis, and wish I could be in the room with them. So I quit my gig at Grant and joined in the fun. I began to study with my friend and colleague Martha Marcom, learning the sequence of the Primary Series. And it has always been that for me: challenging, rewarding and fun.

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Congratulations to Marianne O’Neil

yohigh_011Congratulations to Marianne O’Neil

Graduate of the Yoga on High 300-hour (Advanced) Teacher Training Program, completed June, 2015

My interests in yoga are as varied as yoga itself! I began as a young adult practicing breath work and poses in the Hatha style, but now I often find myself wanting a more vigorous Ashtanga-styled practice paired with pranayama and yoga nidra. In the last several years I have worked closely with Mary Sinclair, our local expert on Balance®, which teaches postural training. The Kundalini teachings of Yogi Bajan are also part of my regular practice. I find that all of the seemingly disparate practices mysteriously work together as a reflection of the universe itself. Richard Freeman calls it The Jeweled Net of Indra, where all practices are jewels connected by the net that leads to all other jewels, and to the heart of yoga that is the intimate relationship with the inner Self. My hope is that I can bring that understanding of the various practices to the students who I teach as well.

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EMBER Series – A Survivor’s Experience

Alana Becker Photography

Alana Becker Photography

Looking back, I don’t think there was anyway I could have known how powerful the EMBER series would be for me. The freeing emotional release I experienced moved me in ways traditional therapy hasn’t in years. I was amazed to begin a process of re-discovering my body, and what it means to be really in it. After spending so much time zoned out from my body and my life, the power of the restorative poses has healed me in ways words cannot adequately describe. To engage with the idea that I can create feelings of safety and comfort for my own body speaks to a level of self-empowerment I have only dreamed of before. Michele has an innate capacity to create a safe place from which healing grows. Read More…

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Urban Zen in the Schools

SharonSharon Collaros, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, teaches multiple Urban Zen classes a week to the teachers and administrative staff in public schools in Columbus, Ohio. Urban Zen was originally designed to support patients, their family members and their medical care givers in hospital settings. But it is finding its way into various other high-stress settings, in this case supporting the important work of caring for and educating children. Urban Zen classes include gentle yoga movements, restorative yoga poses, breathing exercises, body awareness meditations, aromatherapy and Reiki.

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2015 Awards

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Yoga on High is in the news! When voting for best Columbus yoga studio or fitness studio, readers of Columbus Alive and 614 Columbus gave YOHI a big thumbs up! Thank you to those who voted, and to all the students who come to the studio and make it the vibrant learning community it is. Read More…

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