Consider Yoga as Part of Back-to-School Routine for Stress & Anxiety | Part 2

A two-part interview with Karey Lynn Krampota, RYT-200

(by Bernice Thill)

Karey Lynn Krampota teaches Viniyoga, a style of yoga linking your breath with your movement that is adapted to support your physical and emotional needs. She offers classes for students throughout various stages of life: sunrise (children) mid-day and sunset (senior). In this second part, Karey Lynn shares specific ideas and techniques for children and parents alike to help alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the school year.

What kinds of advice or practices can you share for parents of kids dealing with higher levels of stress and/or anxiety related to the start of a new school year?

First, it’s okay not to be okay! There will be hard days, but taking a breath makes it easier. When we feel frustrated or overwhelmed what happens? Our breath becomes shorter just like our temper. Use your breath as a guide for ease and support.

When we become aware of our breath, we become more mindful of our feelings. Within this awareness and mindfulness, we can set an example for our children.

Having a set routine each day for your child helps them know what to expect and reduces anxiety. Depending on age or developmentally where your child is, you can have a calendar with different stickers for certain activities. Utilizing a clock with stickers by certain times for daily routine tasks, such as (for younger children) 4 PM has a book sticker for homework and 7 PM has a bed sticker for bedtime. You can also color code the clock for different tasks and have a chart with coordinating colors as a key (for older children).

Getting their backpack ready, lunch made, homework completed and clothes picked out the night before limits morning rushing and stress kids and parents alike.

What are some of the techniques you teach in your classes that can help alleviate stress or anxiety for children?

Here’s an example of something you would learn in my classes, called Tense & Release.

The idea for this Mindful Activity is for families to come together to learn and notice the difference between feeling stress/tension vs. relaxation/calm in our minds and bodies. Recognizing the difference between the two helps promote a healthy coping skill to begin the process of releasing the tension we may be experiencing and potentially creating that sense of calm.

To begin:

Invite your Little Yogi to either lay on their back, belly or sit in a comfortable seated position next to you or on your lap. Take a few breaths here. In through your nose and out through your nose.

Inhale creating a fist with your hands, exhale unclenching your hands. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale Ask: Do you feel your hand feeling tight? 

After Exhale Ask: Do you feel your hand feeling relaxed?

Inhale bringing your toes towards your nose, exhale drawing your toes away from your body. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale Ask: Do you feel your legs feeling tight?

After Exhale Ask: Do you feel your legs feeling relaxed?

Inhale extending your belly out. Exhale drawing your belly in. Do 3 Times.

After Inhale: Do you feel your belly growing big?

After Exhale: Do you feel your belly growing small?

To end:

Take a few breaths together. Give each other a hug.

How can parents incorporate more play at home to help alleviate stress or anxiety?

I like to use everyday activities to help parents and children become more connected with their breath and to practice being more mindful. A few examples include:

Bake Cookies:

Before, during and after baking, engage all of your senses. Take time to notice one thing you can see, hear, touch and feel, smell, and finally, taste! This exercise can help kids slow down and be present.

Wiggle & Giggle: 

Turn on your favorite music and dance-wiggle around. After moving through a song or two, sit in a comfortable position. Share a joke or many and laugh-giggle. Movement + Laughter = Stress Reduction

Walk & Talk: 

Take a walk each day with your child to talk. Talk about anything and everything. Talk about your day: What was the best part of your day? Was there a part of your day that wasn’t easy? Is there anything that you need help with? What was your favorite moment today? Walk + Talk = Conscious Connection

Rest & Digest: 

After school when your children come home, give them time to transition. During this time, offer them a quiet space, creating the opportunity to rest from their day and digest the reminder. Rest + Digest = Calm Transitions

Learn more about classes Karey Lynn offers on the 5 Koshas website.

Consider Yoga as Part of Back-to-School Routine for Stress & Anxiety | Part 1

A two-part interview with Karey Lynn Krampota, RYT-200

(by Bernice Thill)

Part I

Karey Lynn Krampota teaches Viniyoga, a style of yoga linking your breath with your movement that is adapted to support your physical and emotional needs. She offers classes for students throughout various stages of life: sunrise (children) mid-day and sunset (senior). 

With school just around the corner for many students and parents, Karey Lynn discusses the benefits of yoga to ease stress and anxiety. Part I of our interview focuses on understanding the stress triggers that affect children and the benefits of introducing yoga at a young age. Part II will share specific ideas and techniques for children and parents alike to help alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the school year.

At what age can children begin to use yoga?

Adults seeking to incorporate yoga into their children’s lives can do so through each juncture of parenthood. From before birth to after. Some opportunities available to interested parents include prenatal yoga, postnatal and baby-bonding yoga, and family yoga. These opportunities can be found in the form of classes at your local yoga studio, online video content or even at the public library through books.

My son was introduced to yoga before he was born! When I was pregnant, I practiced prenatal yoga to prepare for birth and labor. After he was born, I found that my practice shifted to not only self-care, but bonding with him. I would practice while he had tummy time on the yoga mat. As he grew bigger and older, my yoga practice adapted to holding him in certain poses or him sitting on my yoga mat while in full observation. When he was a toddler, he began mimicking my postures and asking questions. Such as, “Mom what are you doing?” and “Mom, don’t I look like you?” As he reached school age, he started becoming more interested in breathing techniques. As he grew, so did his interest in the different aspects of yoga. Most school age adolescents begin as observers then become absorbers!

Based on your experience with working with children, what kinds of anxieties do they tend to exhibit? What triggers them?

Anxiety in childhood can change as they encounter different life experiences, and interruptions in routine related to school can be a big one. Many situations can trigger their anxiety, such as being over-simulated in an environment that is loud or with a big group of people, learning how to navigate a new situation and even witnessing learned behaviors from parents or caregivers that display nervousness or unease.

During the different transitions of age, children may experience anxiety about:

  • Early childhood (birth to age 5)
    • Being away from parents for the first time or starting school
    • Learning to share toys or making new friends
  • Middle childhood (ages 6 to 12)
    • Not knowing an answer when called on at school 
    • Realizing they aren’t a little kid anymore, but they aren’t a big kid yet
  • Adolescence (ages 13 to 18)
    • Going through puberty
    • Becoming an adult and what will I do with my life?
  • Other examples of exhibited anxiety may be from:
    • Worrying about grades
    • Struggling with managing school and/or extracurricular activities 
    • Problems with friends, bullying, or peer pressures
    • Moving or changing schools
    • Dealing with home problems or parents separating

How can yoga help parents and kids manage their stress and anxiety?

Yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety in adults and children alike by helping them become aware of their body and breath, which can help them become mindful and present. When children become mindful, we then can present them with skills for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Yoga fosters benefits within a family, too. Family members that practice yoga become more in-tune with their feelings, which results in limited reactions due to stress. The family moves away from absorbing and reacting to observing and responding.

Are children more open to embracing different techniques for managing stress?

Absolutely! Children throughout each stage and age from early childhood to adolescence are naturally curious. Children are born full of wonder as they develop and so do the questions of Who? What? Where? When? Why? Children are growing while they try to understand their environment and everything around them including their emotions, stress, thoughts and experiences.

What are some of the techniques you teach to help kids?

Children typically have limited attention spans when they are young, so yoga techniques for children are all about play. Some of the yoga tools that benefit children are:

Breath – learning how the body works with breathing mechanics:

  • Blowing bubbles—creates the awareness of breath through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale
  • Smelling flowers—develops the breath through the nose on inhale and out through the nose on exhale
  • Fogging the mirror or window—demonstrates how to breath through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale
  • Creating animal noises with the breath like a bee or farm animals—explores breathing through the nose on inhale and out through the mouth on exhale (making the sound)

Movement – expanding the body mobility and developing flexibility:

  • Moving through static movement that begins slow and progressively gets quicker or movement begins quickly then proceeds to a slow pace
  • Linking movement with songs like head, shoulders, knees and toes or the hokey pokey

Learn more about classes Karey Lynn offers on the 5 Koshas website.

Balance Your Summer Heat Using Ayurveda

An Interview with Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor

Summer. It’s officially here. It’s a time of excitement—travel, visiting friends, family celebrations, summer projects. 

Summer. It also can be a time of excess—excess heat and humidity, over-scheduled social calendars, indulgent celebrations. We pack a lot into our short summers. They can become a whirlwind of activity. We may find our lives begin to match the intensity of the season. 

To find balance, consider incorporating Ayurvedic principles into your physical or asana practice. Pauline Zweck, E-RYT 200 Certified Viniyoga Wellness Instructor, explains how Ayurveda can help when the summer heat—and busyness—is on.

First, some perspective. Ayurveda is an ancient health system, founded in India over 5,000 years ago. It teaches that everything is made up of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether or space.

“According to Ayurvedic teachings, each of us is born with a unique combination of these elements. This is your basic constitution, known in Sanskrit as ‘prakriti’. Your constitution never changes, and it’s expressed as doshas,” Zweck says.

The three doshas and their associated elements are:

  • Vata (air and ether) 
  • Pitta (fire and water) 
  • Kapha (earth and water) 

“When life starts happening—our diet, lifestyle, environment, and even the seasons—can put us in vikruti, or an imbalance of our doshas. Ayurveda, the science of life, suggests introducing opposite qualities to find balance and maintain good physical and emotional health,” explains Zweck. “In Ayurveda, the seasons are also assigned related doshas. Summer is known as pitta (fire and water) season. Even if pitta is not your basic tendency, this hot, fiery season may cause pitta imbalance in our bodies.”

If you are experiencing excess pitta, it may show up as: 

  • Heartburn
  • Skin rashes
  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Excess heat in the body

“As someone with pitta as my dominant dosha, during the hot summer days the excess heat makes me quite miserable and I can feel irritable and impatient,” Zweck says. “However, when pitta is in balance, we have mental clarity, vitality, and are joyful to be around.” 

So, how can you get to a more joyful place? Using the Ayurveda teachings that balance is found in opposites, Zweck shared these tips to try during your asana practice to cool and soothe your body and mind:

  • Practice in a cool, dark room
  • Practice before 10:00 a.m. or after 2:00 p.m.
  • Keep your gaze soft at the horizon 
  • Let go of precision and rather find grace and flow in your movements
  • Take time to pause—summer is not a time to be agenda-driven
  • Relax effort to 70 percent 
  • Use forward bends, side opening poses, and simple twists to “vent” the “fire” in the solar plexus (naval and upward) area
  • Lengthen your exhales to release any built-up anger or frustration
  • Be aware of your back body as you breathe

For those new to Ayurveda, Zweck shared this quick, pitta-pacifying hand mudra you can do anytime, independent of an asana practice:

Bring the tip of each thumb to the web between the ring and little fingers of the same hand. Relax your hand and fingers and hold the mudra up to 5 minutes. The fire element represented by the thumb, bows to, and is pacified by the earth and water elements represented by the ring and little fingers.


Zweck recommends incorporating a few of these ideas into your practice. Notice how you might bring some of these ideas into other activities throughout your day. Your body, mind and spirit may welcome the balance.

Taking Time for Self-Care

An interview with Mary Kluz, RYT-200, 5 Koshas Yoga Teacher 
By Bernice Thill, Writer and Yoga Practitioner

Your body is an engineering marvel. And like any well-engineered marvel, it needs maintenance and fine tuning. That’s where self care comes into play, according to Mary Kluz, MS, RYT-200, Viniyoga Teacher at 5 Koshas.

 

What is self care? “Self care is about checking in on oneself, identifying unmet needs and seeking ways to meet those needs,” explains Kluz.

Self care can evolve from our responses to various aspects in life —from physical and emotional, to spiritual, professional and relational, or to some or all of these things at any given time. “Human needs are universal, but how we satisfy those needs vary greatly,” says Kluz, who along with teaching, has been dedicated to a personal yoga practice for 16 years. 

“A good way to check in on yourself is to pay attention to how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. Are you feeling agitated? Do you have a short fuse? Do you feel down?” she says. “Sometimes these ‘bad’ emotions are good indicators that your body is waving a flag. It needs some help. This is a good time to consider self care.”

Kluz acknowledges that society doesn’t always allow people the time they need for self care, or that self care can be viewed as selfish. She believes that you can’t take care of others, whether you are a parent or a caregiver, a leader at work, or a partner in a relationship for example, without taking care of yourself first.

Self-Care Self Checkin

How do you get started?

First, recognize and embrace self compassion. “You have to believe that you deserve to have this care, that it’s ok to focus on your own needs without feeling selfish,” Kluz says.

Second, take the time to slow down enough to check in with yourself and reflect. “Look inside yourself and recognize the feelings you have, and use those feelings as guideposts,” she says.

Third, identify the needs that may be driving those feelings. Can you pinpoint what is serving you and what isn’t? Be open, and also give yourself permission to consider different strategies to better meet your needs. It can be as simple as giving yourself permission to change your mind.

Finally, take action toward self care. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I do this on my own or do I need to ask for help?’ This is where yoga can play a role, because it focuses on creating unity between your body and mind,” she adds. “Yoga cultivates more consistent communication between our bodies and our brains.”

Yoga as Part of Self-Care Practice

There are different triggers in life that may bring students into a yoga practice. When they join her classes, Kluz meets her students where they are and helps them explore the benefits of yoga.

“Yoga can provide students with an opportunity to practice interoception — that is the sense of what is going on inside our bodies,” she explains. Interoception is what helps people recognize different emotions, and also can help with understanding and responding to them. 

Yoga also provides an opportunity for proprioception, or the perception and awareness of where our bodies are in space. “For example, if you’re doing a yoga pose and have to put one foot behind your body where you can’t see it, proprioception allows you to be certain that your foot is still back there, supporting you. Focusing on this sense allows one to be more in the moment, feeling grounded to the earth.”

Lastly, yoga helps tone the nervous system, fostering unity between the body and mind. 

Self care is for anyone — and while Moms are on our minds as we look toward Mother’s Day — self care is critical for anyone in a caregiving role. It’s a life skill that can be modeled for our own children to help them approach and experience life on a more even keel.

For further exploration, 5 Koshas offers an in-studio and online class, Gentle Yoga for Beginners and Beyond learn more HERE Consider a gift card for the caregivers in your life this Mother’s Day. You can learn more and purchase HERE

Matters of the Heart – em.bodi.ment

By Pamela Luedtke, Certified Brain Gym Instructor, Dance Instructor, Certified Pilates Instructor & Creator of em.bodi.ment 

The Fire Element symbolizes our passion for life through the quality of our relationships with others. The connections we make with each encounter is a balance of giving and receiving unconditional love with others and with ourselves

Our heartbeat accelerates with every emotion or physical action we take or slows down to a peaceful waltz during a quiet moment of meditation. Noticing our heart field and imagining our heart field expanding into the space that surrounds us is an opportunity to direct our unconditional love outwards towards others.

The heart field is an energic connection that reaches from our heart space through our distal reach and can expand as far as we can imagine. Noticing our heart field also provides insight to our abilities to receive unconditional love. To create true balance within our heart field, we must be able to give and equally receive love.

The following integrated movement from em.bodi.ment provides the imagery and physical gesture that explores our heart field.

The Fire Element is one of five elements of the Element Wheel. Each element has one action referred to as an integrated movement. This action is repeated multiple times and provides a movement experience that focuses on personal choice-making. Authentic movement is movement that you choose to make however slow or fast you wish to move. The impulse or motivation to move is based on your breath, eyes and internal affirmations creating a reflective process of movement.

The single movement that is repeated is a starting point, where your gestures take you is a precious moment of choice and expression of your authentic self. The movements are based on Brain Gym ® and Touch for Health ® concepts of integrated movements.

Integrated movements are specific movements that correlate to specific areas of the brain. For example, when we walk, we move through cross-lateral movements which activates both hemispheres of the brain while moving our right arm only, activates the left hemisphere of the brain. The potential of daily movement is not only valuable to our body but also to our brain.

In the following video, join me in exploring our heart field of the Fire Element through the em.bodi.ment  actions from the Element Wheel.

Fire

Meridians: Heart/Small Intestine (Unconditional Love & Assimilation) and Pericardium/Triple Warmer (Bonding & Harmony)

  • Standing in neutral placement, feet parallel with the knees unlocked. Take a moment for intentional breathing and place your hands over the heart or lower abdominals. Slowly extend the arms outward and then return to the surface of the body. Breathe in open your eyes and exhale and close your eyes. Breathe in open your eyes and internally state or speak out loud “I am” as your internal affirmation, exhale close your eyes and notice one word that may come to mind. Repeat your inhale with eyes open stating “I am” and exhale notice your key word that may complete this simple but powerful phrase.
  • The integrated movement begins by noticing your heart field. Through the gesture of reaching out and returning to your heart center, notice how far your heart field expands. Does it extend to your fingertips, pass your fingertips, through the walls or does it extend miles away?  Allow the eyes to look outwards with your reach and bring your focus closer following the return to the surface of your body. The gesture of extending out is to direct your intention of giving unconditional love, the gesture of drawing the hands back to your heart or lower belly, embodies your acceptance of unconditional love. Layer this movement experience with your breath pattern described previously, along with your internal affirmation of “I am”.
  • Reach out into your distal space which is as far as you can reach to your fingertips. Our personal space includes the distal reach of our front/back, side/side, up/down and diagonal front/back space. Each direction we reach out into has three levels, low, middle, and high. Expand your heart field by reaching in different directions in a variation of levels. Your authentic movement may expand this gesture into stepping into the direction where you reach. This action of stepping also challenges leg tracking of your gait and balance.
  • Finish by arriving in stillness, take a deep in-hale and ex-hale in stillness to conclude. I find value in taking a moment to write and reflect on your movement experience recalling imagery, emotions or inner dialogue drawn out by the affirmation of “I am”. Observe your reflection through the viewpoint of a witness and not of judgement. Consider exploring this Element for one week.

Join Pamela in her upcoming 11 Video-On-Demand Series: em.bodi.ment Shen & Ko Cycle & One Private Session learn & register HERE

Begins Monday, February 14th – April 25th | Videos are uploaded each Monday; Practice when it’s convenient for you!

Pamela Luedtke NCPT-CPT completed her Comprehensive Pilates Certification through Studio B Pilates/Balanced Body in 2014 and Balanced Body Master Instructor Training, Sacramento, CA, in 2020. As a Pilates Instructor at Studio B, she has worked with individuals of various backgrounds and abilities in both large group classes and with clients in one-on-one consultations. Pamela was certified as a Brain Gym® Instructor in 2005 and continues to integrate the theory into her teaching which inspired her to develop a movement exploration titled em.bodi.mentem.bodi.ment  links movement development and reflexive repatterning  that creates a physcial exploration of layered  activities that can enhance and support your  physical practice of authentic and integrated movement.

Pamela completed the 500-hour certification of Brain Gym ® through the Educational-Kinesiology Foundation teacher program in 2005.  As a certified instructor (2005-2010), Pamela facilitated trainings through-out Central Wisconsin instructing; Introduction to Brain Gym ® and Brain Gym ® 101 course work for elementary and high school educators. She has also consulted schools to bring more movement into the learning process by accessing Brain Gym® activities in the classrooms. As a Practitioner, she continues to advocate the integrateation and implementation of movement into our daily lives to enhance comprehension, focus, organization, and emotional health. For additional information about Brain Gym ® visit www.braingym.org to learn more.

Pamela is an active artist in the Central Wisconsin community for more than 20 yeasr. She is the founder and artistic director of Point Dance Ensemble, a co-founder of The Artist In Residence Project (AIR Project) and a founding member of Shuvani Tribal Belly Dance. Pamela was a soloist with the Mary Anthony Dance Theatre in New York, NY for eight years, during which time she also worked with such dance luminaries as Anna Sokolow, Bertram Ross and Agnes de Mille. She is currently a Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she teaches Ballet and Modern Dance technique, as well as a Pilates Mat class.

What is Acupuncture? Ancient Practice For Modern Living

Written By: Dr. E. Reenah McGill of The Healing Energy Center (located inside 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness)

Hi, thanks for taking your time to read this short informative blog. Let me introduce myself as Dr. Reenah McGill. I offer acupuncture and acupressure a form of Chinese medicine, at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness. This will be the first of many blogs to help you learn more about this modality which can help YOU Live, Love and Learn with greater joy and harmony in a PAIN FREE body.

I’d first like to introduce a centuries old method to handle pain to do that.  No, it’s not Yoga, but does work together with Yoga. It is Acupuncture.

Acupuncture has been practiced for over 5,000 years on almost every continent and in many cultures.

What is acupuncture? How might it help relieve you of:

  • pain
  • tension
  • discomfort
  • migraines
  • headaches
  • plus other conditions

Acupuncture is a 5000 year old healthcare system that has proven itself over this time to help people enjoy their life more fully. It does this by re-balancing the energy system, called Qi, and removing blocks of pain that have stopped or slowed you down. It helps you build strong and balanced bodies and minds, especially with the additional use of herbs.

In my practice I use a combination of acupuncture, acupressure, herbs, moxibustion, cupping and other modalities. Together these are known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is a preferred form of healthcare based on its effectiveness, affordability and lack of adverse side-effects when compared to Western medicine.

In a nutshell, acupuncture is using very thin needles (which rarely causes any discomfort to you, the patient) and your body so your energy is redirected to a healthier flow bringing balance into your body and mind plus relief from pain and discomfort. 

The very thin needles are inserted in very specific places based on what is bothering you and are left there for 20-30 minutes while you relax.  They are then removed and we review how you are feeling. Many clients find multiple sessions are helpful. I am here to support you in your health intentions.

Learn more about Dr. McGill HERE

Visit her website HERE

Dr. McGill has practiced acupuncture for over 25 years, and has been at 5 Koshas for over 5 years. She shares that “Currently Medicare covers it for low back pain and the VA recommends and pays for it to treat a wide variety of conditions from body pain to better sleep.”

To learn more about these conditions, have questions answered or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. McGill by calling or texting her at: (818) 378-9882

Em.Bodi.Ment: Movement Exploration Of One’s Authentic Self

By Pamela Luedtke: Certified Brain Gym Instructor, Dance Instructor, Certified Pilates Instructor 

 

Read More About Pam Here 

 

When I was first introduced to the idea of dance improvisation at age 13, the idea of moving how I felt seemed abstract. The structure of my dance experience included my instructor demonstrated and my fellow dancers and I would reproduce what we saw the best we could. When asked to improve, I froze and then began with what I thought was asked from me to dance steps that were instructed in a different sequence of my choice. I was curious at that awkward moment of realizing that there was more to dance than being told to move a certain way, I simply never was taught how to move as my authentic self. This was a starting point and the beginning of a personal lifetime quest to not only experience my authentic self through movement but also to develop a process to instruct and share the expansive and healing nature of movement.

My humble attempt to create a starting point to personal movement choice is through repetitive actions. In the movement experience em.bodi.ment offered at 5 Koshas, each Element from the Element Wheel has one action that is repeated multiple times.  Through repetition we can explore choice-making (how slow/fast, big/small do I make this action?), breath integration (breath is the purpose for your movement and is the pulse in which you move to), and internal dialogue (a short affirmation is stated to focus the mind and body).

The single movement that is repeated is a starting point, where your gestures take you is your precious moment of choice and expression of your authentic self. The movements are based on Brain Gym ® and Touch for Health ® concepts of integrated movements. Integrated movements are specific movements that correlate to specific areas of the brain. When we walk, we move through cross-lateral movements which activates both hemispheres of the brain while moving our right arm only, activates the left hemisphere of the brain. The potential of daily movement is not only valuable to our body but also to our brain.

I invite you to explore this movement from the em.bodi.ment class offered as a virtual experience through 5 Koshas Video-On-Demand (VOD). Register Here

In the following video, join me in exploring the one repetitive action from Wood inspired by the em.bodi.ment of the Element Wheel. Watch Video Here

Tips & Steps To Follow As You Watch YouTube Video Experience Wood- Meridians: Gall Bladder and Liver

Part 1: 

  1. Begin by rooting down in the lower half of your body.
  2. Feet place hip-distance apart, root into the surface below you.
  3. Rock the weight of your center of gravity forward, backward, side to side feeling the surface of your feet with soft bent legs receiving the weight of your body.
  4. You may close your eyes or keep them open.
  5. Breath in open your eyes and exhale and close your eyes.
  6. The internal affirmation is “I Act”.
  7. Breath in open your eyes and internally state or speak out loud “I Act”.
  8. Close your eyes and listen to the sonic memory of this affirmation or perhaps a single word might respond. I recommend staying with this response for the duration of the movement experience that follows.

Part 2:

  1. The integrated movement begins by swinging the arms and rotating starting from the push of the feet which rotates the pelvis into the lumbar, thoracic, cervical spine and head. The arms can swing low, middle, or high.
  2. Allow the head to move with rotation, but if you get dizzy, you can keep your head and focus on the center.

Part 3: 

  1. Layer this movement experience with your breath pattern described previously, along with your internal affirmation.
  2. Play an inspiring song and listen to the impulse of choice making.
  3. Move slowly, change a level or travel in space.
  4. Begin at one point, embody every moment of the action and pleasantly be surprised by where you may arrive.
  5. If you feel the inner dialogue of “What do I do next?”, which often takes place, return to the beginning action of the swing to reconnect you to the process of em.bodi.ment.
  6. Finish by arriving in stillness, take a deep in-hale and ex-hale in stillness to conclude. I find value in taking a moment to write and reflect on your movement experience recalling imagery, emotions or inner dialogue drawn out by the affirmation of “I Act”. Observe your reflection through the lens of a witness viewpoint and not as a judgement. Consider exploring this Element over a week span of time.

Awareness Through Movement: “The Possibilities are Endless”

By Bette Stephens, P.T., G.C.F.P.

“Harmonious efficient movement prevents wear and tear.  More important, however, is what it does to the image of ourselves and our relationship to the world around us.”  (Moshe Feldenkrais)

What is Awareness Through Movement?

Welcome to increasing your AWARENESS through Movement from “The Feldenkrais Method”.  I’d like to tell you a little bit about my classes offered through 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness in Wausau, WI.  Each lesson begins with very easy movements, that you are instructed to do gently, slowly, and repetitively.  As the lesson progresses, interesting, non-habitual variations are weaved in; at this point, it is very helpful to engage your curiosity as you listen to your body following the instructions.

“Learning happens when the brain is confused, out of its habit and then learning can happen.”  (Ruthy Alon)

Guided scans are led in the beginning to enable you to learn more about some of your habitual patterns; later scans allow you to acknowledge changes that are happening throughout the lesson.  The scanning supports your learning process and allows you to adjust the way you are interpreting the instructions.

I remind you to treat yourself with complete self-respect: “do less than you could”, and to “feel, not strain”.  And, when you feel the pleasure of the gains, you’re encouraged to enjoy them and accept them as benefits to your learning experience; this AWARENESS leads to neurological responses, that gradually provide lasting effects or “neuroplasticity”, benefits that you can “keep” or at least, quickly regain.

There are a wide-range of lessons, but, you will find they all benefit your breathing and ability to be in the moment (a kind of “Movement Meditation”); your neuromuscular system relaxes, allowing tight muscles to let go of holding and regain their more normal length; coordination of body parts are reawakened with a sense that your skeleton and muscles are more organized when you stand up, with a more stable base, a feeling of lengthening upright and opening of your upper chest, all leading to lighter, easier movements in your life activities:

“The lessons are designed to improve ability, that is to expand the boundaries of the possible:  to turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy, and the easy into the pleasant.  For only those activities that are easy and pleasant will become part of (your) habitual life and will serve (you) at all times.”  (Moshe Feldenkrais)

There are many benefits to a wide spectrum of people, the only requirements are an ability to listen with curiosity and an openness to new possibilities.  “The Possibilities are Endless”, words I often heard and embodied with Gaby Yaron; thankfully, she was my trainer in the early 1990’s.  If you have never experienced “ATM” lessons, you do have that opportunity through “5 Koshas Yoga and Wellness”.  And, if you have done “ATM” lessons, previously, wouldn’t you like to do more?

Bette Stephens, P.T., G.C.F.P., teaches Awareness Through Movement Classes at 5 Koshas Yoga & Wellness in Wausau, WI.  You can find her class schedule at https://www.5koshasyoga.com/yoga/class-schedule/

The View From My Yoga Mat

Written By: Janie Martin, 5 Koshas Yoga Student

Photographed above is Janie’s Yoga Buddy Spanky, who watches as she practices daily!

I am a yoga student, usually taking twice a week lessons, for four years. I also practice on my own nearly every day. I consider myself a ranked beginner.

Before I started taking classes, I thought yoga looked easy. My main concerns were not looking silly and keeping up with my classmates the first few weeks. My goal was to remain flexible as I aged; and because my doctor recommended yoga for those who were, like me, at high risk of osteoporosis.

At random, I picked a “beginner” class in Tulsa where I was living and found a gem of an instructor, and a room full of kindred souls.

Even when everyone else was stretching to the right side, and I was inexplicably going left, there were no laughs or corrections. My concerns about looking silly vanished quickly.

After six months it dawned on me that although I was getting (at least most of the time!) into the correct poses, I wasn’t focused on increasing my ability to stretch.

I had heard “go halfway between easy and hard,” from instructor Linda for six months, but that day the lightbulb came on, and I started to feel progress.

As we prepared to move home to Wisconsin two years ago, one of the things that was the hardest to leave behind was my class and instructor.

Finding a yoga studio was a high priority and I was very fortunate to end up at 5 Koshas, in gifted Renee’s class.

Due to the pandemic, I now only see my fun and interesting classmates via zoom, but I anxiously await a return to the studio when it is safe.

Recently, during my solo practice at home, I had another blinding glimpse of the obvious, or BGO, as I call them.

I was focused on breath and movement, and suddenly realized I was matching my breath to my body movement, and not matching the body movement to my breath.

This may sound inconsequential, but when I started to let my breath lead, my physical movements slowed drastically.

This after I have heard multiple instructors coach the correct way for four years! The result when I got it right was a deeper sense of relaxation and calm.

Years ago, I enjoyed taking Tae Kwan Do classes with my son. But in contrast with yoga, the focus was on learning a skill set and advancing.

It felt like a pressurized rush to master and move up. Yoga is complex enough that I am still challenged in a “Beginner and Beyond” class.

I am making slow progress, but I am not impatient. Going slow is delivering gains in my flexibility, but also in achieving a relaxed mental state which is almost addictively enjoyable.

Once in a while, I am busy and tempted to skip my daily practice. But when I “adult myself” to the mat, it only takes minutes for me to be glad I am taking this time for myself.

It never fails when I get on the floor at home our two big dogs come to see if I need their help. (I don’t.) Luckily they lose interest quickly, and when they depart, our cats come and lie on the mat corners.

It is unusual for the cats to seek me out during the day. I believe they are attracted by the calm energy I have when practicing. “Calm energy” is not how anyone who knows me would usually describe me.

I am enjoying my yoga journey at a pace that feels right for me. I am adjusting to a new instructor, and as hard as it is to accept change, I know I will have a BGO or two because everyone helps me see or feel something new.

I am inspired by those I take classes with who are older than I, or have physical challenges, yet persist in practicing.

I hope I can be a beginner still unrolling my mat daily for many years to come. You may still see me sweeping left when everyone else is sweeping right, but after all, they do call it “practice.”

Yoga For Better Sleep

by Kerry MacDonald, RYT-200

“Counting sheep to sleep?”

There are so many reasons for sleepless nights.  Many of us are busy and stressed, unable to shut our brains off. Daily stresses build in our mind and cause anxiety. Others suffer from muscle aches and pains that wake them up and keep them up.

Yoga is similar to a meditation session in that it encourages you to bring focus back to your body and breathe, your mind is less distracted. You will find sleep comes easier when negative thoughts are diminished.

Langhana breathing practice is when your exhale is longer than your inhale, this technique relaxes your nervous system and can be calming to your mind.

Exploring different yoga postures to relax tense muscles can be extremely helpful to ease daily aches and pains. Various poses help to stimulate deeper breathing, which in turn relax your body & soothe your mind.

The more you practice the less you tend to think about your breathing techniques because it becomes more natural.

Everyone feels a little overwhelmed and stressed, it’s normal.  We all find ourselves struggling to fall asleep at one time or another.  Being able to calm your mind and get some extra zzzz’s would be a great gift to yourself.

 

Can you learn yoga techniques to sleep better at night?

You can join me on Sundays at 7 PM for Online Pajama Yoga: Yoga For Better Sleep & Tuesdays at 9 AM for Online Gentle Yoga For Beginners & Beyond These classes are intended for beginners and beyond! Everyone is welcome.  Also, these classes will be recorded and are available for 5 days.

Kerry MacDonald RYT-200, has been a yoga practitioner for 5 years and was certified as a yoga teacher by River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School in 2020.  Her yoga teaching is to help students to feel confident and knowledgeable about their practice while exploring all the benefits the practice has to offer and apply it to daily living.