healing

Welcome Trust

image1I had no idea if it was the right time to become a yoga instructor. A spell of feelings: self-doubt, intimidation, insecurity, anticipation. What did I have to offer that other 200-hour teachers out there didn’t have? Would I enter a saturated teaching scene with nothing unique to share? When I was considering joining Yoga on High’s 200 Hour Teacher Training Program, I solicited everybody I encountered for their advice. Do you think I should go for it? Do you think I have the time? Is my practice advanced enough? Am I ready? I received boundless advice, but it was my own fortitude that got me to take the leap of faith. ‘A leap of faith’ is exactly what I would call my entire 200 Hour Teacher Training experience at Yoga on High. I was never ready; I was never sure my practice was advanced enough, if I had the time, or even if it was the right time, but I had to take the leap of faith to figure it out. I couldn’t be more grateful that I did.

I found trust. I had to trust that while it felt like I didn’t know half of what I thought I knew about yoga, I was in the right place at Yoga on High. Surrounded by knowledgeable mentors, experienced teachers, and my fellow teacher trainees, I was given all the tools to dive as deep as I wanted into the sea of transformation. I trusted in myself that I would always find a way to accomplish everything I needed to, when I needed to. The 9-month program is perfectly crafted to propose new content in a digestible way and I trusted that there was plenty of time to know it all.

I found comfort. Teacher training taught me to truly find balance between ease and effort in practice and in teaching. I learned to dedicate myself to proper alignment to achieve comfort in even the most modest of postures. My teachers, Michele Vinbury and Marcia Miller, taught me comfort in the fluctuating state of the mind that has translated off the mat into daily life in more ways than I imagined.

I found fearlessness. Being in the role of an instructor and giving the gift of yoga to another person is an incredible responsibility. It felt unnatural to be judged on my teaching because teaching yoga isn’t supposed to be about me, it’s about my students! Overcoming that required a certain amount of audacity as did simply standing up in front of a room of students. Each lesson of the program helped me get to that place of fearlessness all on my own.

image2 (1)I found healing. I began this adventure with the intention of healing others and I ended with also healing myself. We all come into teacher training with our own experiences and circumstances. Life did not stop when I signed up for 200 Hour Teacher Training. I was not in a bliss bubble for nine months protected from all of life’s highs and lows. Yet still, I became better equipped to face life’s challenges and I broke down rigidity I had been holding onto in my heart. I have so many salient memories of moments over the course of the training that helped me unravel truths about myself. On a particular Monday night, I was assisting Anne Weidinger’s Hot Flow class and was completely overcome with awe witnessing the students in the room moving together with their collective breath. One morning I remember practice teaching a guided meditation in Savasana to a group of beginning yogis, and when I closed my eyes, I could feel their peace. Moments like these proved that I am enough and I do have something unique to offer this world. We all do.

If you are considering going through your teacher training, I propose the idea that it will never be the right time. It will always be a leap of faith. That’s the beauty of it and you just have to do it to let the mystery unfold.

Brittny Manos is a Research Coordinator in Adolescent Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a graduate of Yoga on High’s 200 Hour Teacher Training Program. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she has arranged her life around health and wellness and yoga is an extension of that. Brittny aims to awaken a new sense of freedom in the mind, body, and breath for her students through dynamic Vinyasa flows and guided meditations.

Michele-2041e_playOur next 200 Hour Teacher Training program begins September 9th.  For more information, join us at our upcoming Free Info Session Sunday, August 28 from 12:00p to 12:45p at the Teacher Training Institute. To apply or for questions, contact Breanna at applications@yogaonhigh.com

 

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Yoga at Marion Correctional Center

10703519_622577991196720_1726412143085759240_nThe Yoga on High Foundation yoga classes taught at Marion Correctional Center introduce the benefits of yoga to the prison community, integrating mindfulness and wellness modalities into the experience. The program invites residents to explore yoga as a healing practice, a powerful tool on their journey towards rehabilitation and wholeness.

“Peace is needed in places that are not peaceful.” -Marion inmate

Let’s OM
Here we are, sitting in simple cross-legged pose at Marion Correctional Center—15 male inmates and me. We are chanting Om. Loudly. Quite loudly, in fact.

And in this very moment, I experience my Truth, a deeply felt sense of being in the right place, with my Brothers. The vibration of our chant reverberates throughout the entire prison. Hopefully its energy reaches beyond the walls of our room and into the hearts and souls of Marion’s over 2000 inmates and 200 guards. We are calling in the vibration of Light.

Languaging
I’m very conscious of languaging that honors the inmates’ journey by empowering them and inviting non-judgmental, non-competitive and supportive internal dialog. Offering them choices as to how they practice and modifications to the yoga poses or breathing techniques empowers them, as does asking for feedback. Since there are no hands-on adjustments, purposeful and deliberate verbal cueing matters.

I use language, combined with constant breath cues, that awakens the yogic mind, encourages awareness and focuses attending--words such as ‘notice, feel, breathe into’ or ‘releasing, letting go, softening.’ This settles their nervous system down.

I am also careful to use non-aggressive language since they have all experienced some form of violence in their past. And I avoid any phrases that could be seen as provocative or sexually suggestive. For example, I would say ‘widen your stance’ rather than ‘open you legs wider.’

The tone and cadence of my voice is also key in establishing a safe sanctuary for their practice. Voice carries frequency, and, as a teacher, my desire is to induce a state of meditative alertness, conducive to optimal learning and spiritual exploration.

The Yoga Classes
Classes begin with a grounding breath practice. I often sense everyone shift into deep awareness of their breath. The whole room comes together in Breath.

We begin class with a dharma theme. Then, over the next 2 hours, inmates will practice asana, pranayama and meditation, be offered essential oils, and have time for journaling and discussion. During Savasana, each inmate also receives Reiki.

The objective of these classes is to introduce inmates to yoga and provide them with viable tools to empower and nurture their rehabilitative, healing journey.

One inmate once asked me how to handle negativity, which pervades his life in prison despite attempts to meditate and stay in the Light. Negativity from within as well, in the form of depression, anxiety and lack of self-esteem. This seems to be a recurring theme in prison life. How to cope with the energy of negativity that many experience.

This then becomes the dharma theme for my next class, in which we meditate on compassion and explore the source of negativity in ourselves—often anger and fear. At the end of class, we take a few moments to journal, and then pair up to share ideas on how to manage negativity.

These men are deep in the trenches of their rehabilitation journey, and it’s not an easy one. My hope is that these practices nurture transformation and self-love in a holistic way.

At the end of every class, I am keenly aware that I get to go home to my free world and they don’t. Many will be in prison for decades.

“Yoga is my way to escape and allow my soul to be free!” -Marion inmate

The Men of Marion
The men of Marion that I’ve taught are searching for meaning in their lives, for tools to help them regain self-respect and forgiveness. There is a genuine desire to change. They’re not perfect, they’ve committed crimes and they fall back into old patterns at times.

Many feel disenfranchised, disempowered and often have low self-esteem. Some have been deserted by their families and friends and feel unsupported.

On a somatic level, their muscles are tight and often their breath is shallow. Consequently, the physical stretch provided by the practice is very welcomed, as well as the awareness of breath.

“This class gives me so much appreciation for the Self despite my situation and circumstance. Every breath, and position gives birth to a new beginning in me.” -Marion inmate

Holding Space
From the moment I leave Columbus and make the 1 hour drive out to Marion, I am “holding space” for this group, especially, during moments of silence in class. The room is dense with healing energy. My intention is to hold this energy until the last OM of the class, and offer a safe place for these men to explore their true essence, freely, without guards and the general disruptive noises of a prison. And perhaps this healing energy can be transmitted to their fellow inmates, their communities and their families so that when they re-integrate into society they carry the vibration of deep Self-Love within.

PrintYoga in Marion Prison is supported by the Yoga on High Foundation. For more information on the Foundation and its programs, or to lend your support, click here. Join Michele Vinbury, Karine Wascher, Shayna Gonzales, Adam Wetterhan and others, October 4th at 10:30a for 108 to Rehabilitate, as we lead a practice of 108 sun salutations. All proceeds to support the Yoga on High Foundation’s Prison Programs.

For a full bio on Karine, click here.

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Student Spotlight: Michele Winship

WHY YOGA?
I absolutely require physical activity for my mental health, and over the years, I have tried just about everything, includ­ing every piece of exercise equipment ever conceived (yes, I had a Thigh Mas­ter). However, yoga is the only movement form that allows me to be totally present, a state that has been difficult for me to achieve in any other way. Yoga has also shown me how to have a compassionate relationship with my body, something that eluded me for much of my life. I call yoga my “moving meditation,” and when I practice, I am having an ongoing conver­sation with my body, asking and listening in mindfulness and giving my body what it needs on any given day. This conver­sation has been critically important over the last decade as I have spent much of it healing from injuries and surgeries. Read More…

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