Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks

Lately in my classes I have been focusing on softening and being receptive.  Yoga requires many things- effort and stamina among them. But without receptivity we miss the most healing aspect of the practice, which is to open. Without opening we can’t connect- to ourselves, to each other, to our bodies, to nature and the world, to our souls. Receptivity is what allows us to open and feel gratitude for the blessings in our lives, but it also allows us and requires us to feel more of everything. Including all those feelings and experiences we don’t like. Darn it. We can’t really be deeply receptive to the beauty in our lives without also making room for our losses and fears and disappointments and longings.

It seems that as humans we spend a lot of energy not feeling and connecting in an authentic way. To make it through the everyday challenges of life, and to survive pain, loss and trauma we all find ways to protect ourselves, to compartmentalize our pain and suffering. To a large extent this is healthy- we can’t feel everything, all the time. This is a gift known as concealment in yoga- it’s one of the panca kritya or five acts of shiva (all five are: creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and revelation). There are healthy ways to protect ourselves such as having healthy boundaries, saying both no and yes in ways that are self-caring and life-affirming. We can also protect ourselves from the busy-ness and overstimulation and even the traumas of the world by creating places of sanctuary in our lives- making our home a place that is sacred, loving, a joyful and serene place to be nourished and to let down our guard – and of course there is the sanctuary of our yoga practice. We all need to also choose consciously to find pleasant distractions- reading or movies or whatever it is you might enjoy that takes your mind off things for a while.  We can’t always get on our yoga mat or meditation cushion and breathe and feel. Sometimes we need to feel less and create some healthy space for ourselves. Then sometimes we create too much space- we dissociate or disconnect in ways that don’t serve us. Though we may be trying to feel better we might choose to act in ways that are anywhere from slightly unhealthy to immensely self-destructive. Limiting belief systems and patterns and even addictions of one kind or another that once served us but no longer do will begin to cause more pain instead of masking old pain. These  are ways we humans try to cope but these paths only lead to more pain and suffering.

How do we turn our patterns around? How do we create a life we love? How do we honor our suffering and pain and that of others and also let joy and wonder and yes even bliss into our experience of this life? For me yoga is not only as much about sensitivity and receptivity as it is effort and strength- it is first and foremost about sensitivity and softening. When we soften we can listen more deeply. What is that pain in our shoulder trying to tell us? What is that subtle anxiety running through our body and mind, or that undercurrent of sadness we keep pushing away, or that hard edge we might sometimes feel in our heart? What stories are we telling ourselves that contribute to our feeling unworthy, never enough? What is underneath that? Can we feel the longing for self-expression and creativity? What dreams have we pushed away, or decided are too impossible to pursue? What’s next in our lives, how do we find that next step unless we pause and listen?

Yoga, from the root word yuj, means to bind. Lately I have had some interesting conversations and heard thoughtful questions from students such as: Is yoga about feeling bliss? Is life about suffering and yoga is the path to freedom? Where does joy fit in, what about compassion? The tantric teachings of yoga that I have steeped myself in and that I teach say this: because our essential nature is free, yoga is really about what we choose to bind ourselves to. What has value and meaning in our lives, what has enough weight- gravitas- that we are willing to commit ourselves heart and soul?  We may have chosen this kind of deep, abiding commitment through friendships or a long term relationship or marriage, parenthood, to our careers and/or to the inner work we feel called to in our lives.  Many of us have found the practices of yoga to be worthy of our daily or weekly attention, over the months and then years of our lives. We commit to this practice for so many reasons- for the benefits of better health and vitality, the fun and joy of the practice, the way it helps us remain more calm and centered in our lives. Many of us find the jewels of self-knowing to be the most precious of all the gifts of the practice. We can translate our insights and awakenings on the mat into our daily lives and live with more courage, more compassion, more sensitivity, more joy.

I am taking a while to get to the theme of gratitude, and for a reason. Because although there is likely much for each one of us to be grateful for, we can’t get there without receptivity. Gratitude is something that can naturally well up inside of us, and it is also something we can cultivate, but it is always something we need to experience by truly taking in the blessings of our lives. Gratitude cannot be forced, nor artificially created just  because we think it is a spiritual quality we should exude as a yogi. It is a quality we can cultivate because it is self-generating- the more we feel it the more it feeds us, which can  then lead to feeling more gratitude. Gratitude begins with receptivity. It is the quality of the heroine in the tantric traditions of the Goddess. The heroine is the part of us- woman or man- who is willing to receive life, to take her experiences to heart, to know him/herself. Receptivity is not passive but active and it is a choice.

I know many people who have suffered great losses in the last few years, and holidays amplify this pain. Softening and feeling what needs to be felt is nothing less than heroic. For others, this is their favorite holiday and a time of joyful family connection, a time to savor delicious food and simply relax from the busy pace of life.
 What are you grateful for in your life? If you take some time to pause, to soften, and just feel, what is there?  At first, don’t just dig around for the “good” stuff,  but listen to what is speaking most loudly to you right now. What else is there? Softening and making space for all that is real for you is a profound practice. It is the real yoga because it is about connecting to yourself, and that connection takes courage. Yet from that authentic connection springs the possibility to heal what needs healing, to release what isn’t serving you, to soften your heart and feel kindness towards yourself. And out of this, all the places in your life that are bright and good, that are beautiful and sweet will show themselves too. And the more you keep making space for all of it, the more gratitude for all those good things will shine. And grow.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Art of Yoga with Sara Rose

The two practices that have sustained me in times of great suffering and have allowed me to ultimately live a life where my deepest dreams have come true are yoga and therapy. I began both complementary journeys at a similar time in my life. Both have offered me solace and peace, the opportunity for profound self-reflection and healing, and the capacity to live my life creatively, joyfully and yes, artfully. Life doesn’t always look pretty (to say the least) but the true yogi learns how to remain aligned with her (or his) deepest self through the crazy curve balls and ups and downs that life brings. No matter what we have lived through, witnessed or might yet endure, we have a treasure inside in the form of our own consciousness. The light of the Self not only cannot be taken away from us, it can be grown, refined and expanded in the most beautiful of ways. It’s who you are.

Though I created my yoga studio to be a sanctuary, the true refuge is in you. A potent way to access that refuge is through yoga. I continue to be awed by yoga’s unending gifts and truly humbled by the joys of teaching.

This is why I am thrilled to be offering a fresh new take on the Yoga Immersion this fall, which I am calling the Art of Yoga. Having offered Anusara Immersions for a decade of my 20 year teaching career, I have a wonderfully organized and inspired springboard from which to offer a current and updated program.

Why would I want to participate in the Art of Yoga Immersion?

Well, let’s see. Do you love yoga? If yes then read on. Would you like to refine your understanding of alignment principles? Deepen and improve your practice? Heal an old injury, revitalize yourself, and soar to new heights in your capacity as a yoga practitioner? Finally master that handstand? Move through your fear of backbends? Generally feel better or just feel more alive? Yes? Ok then read on because even if that is all you want, there is so much more.

The Art of Yoga Immersion is an opportunity to deepen your asana practice and to broaden your understanding of all aspects of yoga. We will practice asana and pranayama with a refined eye for the details of alignment. We will also practice with a greater sensitivity to the breath and the inner energy body.

We will learn about the history of yoga, what is actually ancient about it and what has evolved only very recently in the west. We will talk about how yoga impacts our lives, what challenges we face, and how to use yoga as a practical and accessible tool to deal with life’s everyday challenges. We’ll talk about yoga as a practice for healing physical pain and limitations, for healing emotional pain and suffering, and experience how yoga can become a true refuge in our lives. Stories of gods and goddesses will be shared as potent mirrors of yourself and gateways into your own capacity to cultivate greatness and to live your life artfully.

In addition to time for quiet personal contemplation, writing exercises (just for you) and meditations, we will share together in groups in a way that provides support and the very best reflection that true community has to offer.

Douglas Brooks will offer a delightful weekend on the Bhagavad Gita in November (which will be open to non-Immersion students as well). Douglas is one of the world’s leading scholars in the esoteric traditions of the Goddess in the Shrividya traditions (see www.rajanaka.com for more info on Douglas). He has been my teacher for over a decade and I am honored to have him share his deep wisdom, outrageous humor and beautiful storytelling with all of you.

What else will we do?

We will also laugh a lot, take ourselves lightly, play and delight in the inexhaustible gifts of yoga.

If you are looking for a joyful experience of yoga, a journey of personal transformation or healing, a deepening of your asana practice, all in a supportive and playful community context… then join us!
I am delighted to be offering this program starting this September.

For more details: The Art of Yoga Immersion
With love,
Sara Rose

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sanctuary by Stacey Steinbach

Written by our lovely Stacey Steinbach after our spring community yoga celebration on May 3rd

Sunday May 5, 2013

My Spiritual Sanctuary

I don't go to church or temple, and if you asked me if I practiced a religion I would say I am spiritual and not religious. Some days I would say I was Jew-ish, emphasis on the ish; where I still feel connected to the culture and traditions from my youth but not necessarily the religious aspects.  Then comes the question, well do you believe in G-d (typed like that out of respect for my upbringing)? And my response is that what I do believe in is that there is something out there greater than myself but I may define that as Grace, Nature, Love or the Universe depending on the day or the way I am feeling.

Recently more and more I understand why some people regardless of how devoted they may be to their particular religion have found a true need to connect to a religious (spiritual) community.  This past Friday we had a community yoga class at Yoga Sanctuary, where I practice yoga and have been spending a significant amount of time these last few months.  At this class all of the teachers taught between 5- 10 minutes but their teaching flowed wonderfully from one to the next.  Following the practice we potlucked (yes it is a verb now) and connected over food.  As I sat in that space I realized that the physical space had actually become a Sanctuary to me.  At one point as I looked around I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I knew most people that were there, some close friends, some true confidants and some just casual acquaintances but regardless of the relationship we all shared something.  This community that I have become part of is one that has become something very significant to me, something that is an integral part of me.  On any given day that I walk around town I can almost be guaranteed to see someone from this community and just having that presence is so grounding to me.

I believe that the relationship  that I have to and with my yoga community is not unlike that of others and their relationship to their religious community.  Maybe this is my way of defining and connecting to spirituality. This Sanctuary of mine has allowed me to breathe deeper than ever before, reflect on life and what it means to me and find acceptance and profound connections.  I have done this through yoga, meditation and just simply by holding a space in this Sanctuary.

"Well I'm done searching now
I found what this life is worth
Not in the books did I find
But by searching my mind
I don't condemn, I don't convert
This is the calling have you heard?
Bring all the lovers to the fold
No one is gonna lose their soul
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
You can take it or leave it
And you don't have to believe it"
 ~Lyrics from "Love is my Religion," by Ziggy Marley
photos coming soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring! Celebrate with 3 weekend workshops...

Dear Friends,
Happy Spring! Wait- really? My backyard is buried in snow and my 5 year old tromped off to school in the snow suit I just bought her for NEXT year. Isn't March supposed to go out like a lamb?

Well, if you need some refreshing and mood-boosting, we have just the weekend of renewing mini-workshops coming up for you.

Saturday, RESTORE:  1-3:30, come to the yoga-spa of workshops:
Restorative Yoga and Aromatherapy
with three nurturing teachers: Lisa Leizman, Luahn Page (co-owner of JoiaBeauty) and Heidi Schenker. Sooo restful and delicious you will thank yourself for the self-care.

Sunday, REFRESH AND PLAY: 1-3, come to Amazing Abigail's
Strong Core Strong Heart workshop
guaranteed to pump you up and inspire you for spring (which really is coming..?!)

or Sunday 3:30-4:30pm, calling all Families! Need some fun where you get let off some steam, stretch, play and laugh together? Sara Rose, owner of Yoga Sanctuary and Mama of two young girls, will be teaching a special
Spring Equinox Family Yoga class for families with children of all ages.

See below for details of these and all our amazing upcoming workshops. We offer the Yoga Sanctuary mini-workshops as fun, affordable ways to go deeper in your practice without having to give up a whole weekend, plus they are a great way to get to know our talented faculty. YS Members always get 10% off!

And I want to put in a plug for Martin Kirk, coming in May from Arizona. He is a unique and incredibly talented Anatomy and Yoga Therapy Teacher and trainer- if you are a dedicated student or teacher you will not want to miss this opportunity to learn about anatomy and therapeutics for your own healing and to learn to help others.

Lastly please save the date: On Friday May 3rd we are delighted to offer a FREE COMMUNITY YOGA CLASS, co-taught by all the YS teachers, in celebration of spring and sharing the blessing of one another's company on this path. Potluck will follow, class starts 6pm.This is our gift to you, new friends welcome too.
With Warmth and Gratitude,
Sara Rose and all the YS teachers  & staff (Kendra, Lisa, Sarah, Tara, Brittany, Heidi, Ellie, Khalila, Abigail, Molly & Toni)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dear Friends,

Happy March! We have almost made it to springtime. I have always found this time of year to be especially dreary as the excitement of winter's snow has waned and the peacefulness of being curled up inside a cozy home has, well, become a bit old. And those tender green shoots of spring are no where to be seen yet though I have heard birdsong every day now. Our yoga practice invites us to align with nature and so as the ground thaws we too feel the need to soften, loosen winter's tightening effects in our bodies, and to find rejuvenation.

After last year's cascades of change and dissolution I welcome this year of gentle growth, of nurturing our beautiful community, of seeing what fresh shoots are heading up and out of the deep dark soil of creativity. At Yoga Sanctuary renewal can be found in our many workshop offerings- from  healing restorative yoga and aromatherapy to the beautiful complements of yoga and writing being offered in 3 different springtime workshops, to our incredible Anatomy and Yoga Therapy Training offered by Martin Kirk this May. Check out the amazing offerings we have put together for you and join us sometime! We have Family Yoga coming up, Yoga and Bodywork, Core Strength.... a positively dreamy line up of new offerings to uplift you and your yoga practice after a long winter. Full descriptions can be found on our website- www.yoga-sanctuary.com

We welcome you to attend the workshops that call to you, to try a new class or teacher at YS  just to shake up your habits and bring a fresh perspective to your practice. We are delighted to welcome Molly Kitchen back to YS after her winter away ... she will be teaching the Tuesday and Thursday 7:15pm Flow classes. We're so glad to have her back.

We have something for everyone in our weekly classes, from Intro to Yoga (our most basic), Gentle, Mixed level classes, to the Level 2 and Advanced Practices. I am personally delighted to be offering more times for Private Sessions (sara@yoga-sanctuary.com to schedule), and am beginning to plan the Immersion/Teacher Training for FAll 2013.
Good things are ahead!

Some of you have asked about the future of YS. While I am still hoping for a change in my administrative role in order to serve more fully as a teacher and teacher trainer, I am committed to keeping this amazing sanctuary going. It is a vibrant and beautiful place... thanks to all of you! I do have a wonderful new assistant, Toni Dube, who you will likely meet in the coming weeks. I wish her a warm welcome!

One of my many hopes for this spring is to connect with our community via the blog more frequently. It's, ah, been a while I know. I might possibly over-mention this... but the two cute little girls in my house sure do keep me busy...

Hope to see you on the mat soon.

With Warmth and Gratitude,
Sara Rose and all the YS teachers (Kendra, Lisa, Sarah, Tara, Brittany, Heidi, Ellie, Khalila, Abigail & Molly)