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.

Let’s take iRest Meditation for a Test Drive – Your Mileage May Vary

by Jay Coldwell, RYT-200 & iRest Meditation Level 2 Teacher 

The stream of consciousness below is similar to what many people experience in an iRest guided meditation practice. As you do your test drive, be sure to notice some things:

  • Moving into direct experience, beyond thoughts and language. Embodiment of sensation, emotion, thought, belief. This is a somatic experience. An experience that welcomes whatever arises. No attachment or aversion. No “trying not to think”.
  • A slow release of the I-centric thought. Noticing presence without reference to “I”. Not trying to do that, but it happens because of the somatic technique of the body scan and breath awareness.
  • Curiosity as to what is coming into Awareness; what is real; defensiveness falling away; letting truth emerge out of insight from the heart.
  • Noticing a Stillness that is always there. It gets covered by the noise of the world, but as we practice iRest, we also notice that Stillness is ALWAYS available, and that everything arises in Stillness.

Enjoy your test drive!

Here I am, attending iRest guided meditation. I hope it’s not too weird. I hope I don’t fall asleep. But how could I fall asleep in a room full of other people, or on Zoom? That’s not going to happen.

Why am I here? What is bugging me? Something is bugging me. Not sure – maybe there is something wrong with me. My boss seems to think so, sometimes….

So. Here we go. Tuning in to the sensations of the room – light, sound, touch, smell, taste….presence of others…..I hope I have time to get to the grocery store. I hope people are wearing masks now……Oh yes, sensations in the room…..Noticing how senses are more vivid when I focus attention on them one-by-one.

Why am I here – oh yes….what is bugging me…is there something wrong??? I should have worn more comfortable clothes, or at least something that looks better….Yes, what IS BUGGING ME? Hmmm. calm down a bit.

Feeling into that memory of Lake Superior, its sounds, movement, deep vitality, it’s gentle swells evoking a feeling of dynamic security, safety, attunement with life……sanctuary…..in the flow.

Remembering that my motivation is for the benefit of all…for myself for sure, but also for all…I even contribute to charity….and I develop skills that help people….I took CPR certification, right? So some things are right with me…..

Ok – let’s focus…..I wonder what the new restaurant across the street is like….we’ll have to go there soon….oops – OK –

Feeling sensations in the jaw…..the teeth….gums….tongue….sides of the mouth….roof of the mouth……any tastes present……and then moving awareness to the inner ear…..really – can people be aware of their inner ear??? ….the structure of the outer ear…any sensation in the outer ear…..hmmm….what was it I needed to do tonight? Something I needed to remember…..feeling the weight of the eyes pressing back into the head….and behind the eyes…..whoa…I do feel something here….following the guidance….really aware of the hands….palms of the hands…..left, then right, then both together…..brain doesn’t talk so much now….oops, focus……..feeling the surface of the body….feeling beyond the body….hey you can!…focus…..following energy of breath on left side, then right side, then both sides…..hmmm…this feels sleepy…..I CAN’T fall asleep – what if I snore???

Now noticing what is present…(what does that mean)….curious…what IS there?…..sensation…pain in left shoulder…..tight….warm…..deep red……pulsating…..radiant……Hmm…it changes as Awareness moves there….bigger, then smaller…..How would it be if that wasn’t there??….curious…..attending…..feeling…..words don’t describe it, but the sensation is distinct…….Now feeling both the pain and the other sensation at the same time…..amazing….shifting…..

A belief comes into Awareness……my boss thinks I’m not good enough……yes, that constricts, right there…..noticing size, texture, movement……..and an opposite belief comes into Awareness……I’m ok….feeling that…size, texture, movement….alternating then feeling both at once….. …… …… …… hmmm….communication could change…..remember that…..

And letting Awareness rest……mind rest….. …… ….. Noticing Stillness…… a brief moment of Stillness….. Resting…… Stillness pervading…. Timeless, Spacious, Familiar, Whole, Perfect…..Resting… Stillness…. …… ….. …..

Remembering – oh yes, change in communication — and – stillness. Feeling surroundings, light, sound, touch, smell, taste…..stillness… opening and closing eyes….was I asleep? Sanctuary….Peaceful….Aware….oh yes, I need to run that errand….and still a sense of Stillness. Breathing deeply, stretching, really back in the room. Moving on with my day.

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

Chocolate

By Heather Van Dalfsen, MEd, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT

Habits are always of interest to me. Even though they are part of our human experience, many of us move through life and our habits on ‘cruise control,’ a subconscious auto-pilot, where we don’t stop to see, hear and feel what is happening. 

There are some days we pause. The infamous New Year’s Eve. When we are inundated to at least try at the dawn of every new year to launch the creation of a new habit or resolve a current habit. 

Habit: A routine of behavior that is repeated regularly 

Intention: Commitment to carrying out an action, creating a plan.

So when do we have time to pause and take ourselves off of ‘cruise control’ to review our habits? If that occurs then what happens next?

The reality is habits and intentions are influenced by so many layers of our life

LAYERS: Gary Kraftsow, Yoga Therapist and Founder of the American Viniyoga Institute explores this through a model that invites you to review your habits through the layers of your:

Environment

Society

Co-workers

Family

Physical health

Physiological health

Thoughts, Behavior, Mood 

 

INTERCONNECTED: Even though this can be a lot to process, all these layers of our life are interconnected, giving us many entry points – doorways ‘in’ to continue reflecting, learning and transforming ourselves. 

How do we take ourselves off ‘cruise control?’

LESS IS MORE – Start small. So small that you are able to take a few minutes each day to engage in something from the list below

BE KIND – To yourself. Everyday. This is an ongoing practice and a foundational powerhouse that is always on your side

MOVE – Many experts in the field of ‘Habits’ encourage movement

  • Walk, dance, do yoga, gardening…what interests you?
  • Most movement offers individuals the opportunity to sharpen their attention and be mindful of what they see, hear and feel

THE WORLD OF APPS – While this would seem to be the antithesis of movement, it can offer a fresh perspective on this topic

  • When you take the time to research ‘Apps to Support Habit Change’ the options are plentiful
  • Some are witty, one was created by a Nobel Prize winner, while others are complex, many offer an efficient way to zoom in on your short and long term intentions and systematize your progress

WRITE IT DOWN – Whether using your computer or pen and paper, anchor this time of writing with an existing ritual – while drinking your coffee, before or after your movements or yoga practice, during a pause to eat a piece of chocolate

  • Create a ‘home base’ to support your ritual of documenting your thoughts, observations, intentions

Some questions to keep you curious and engaged:

  • ‘In this season of life what are my habits of speech, actions, thoughts?
  • ‘What habits serve me well at this time as I navigate life? What habits are not as helpful at this time?’
  • ‘What could I add to my daily routine? What could I take away?’
  • ‘What supports me in this review, planning and actions of my life?’

MORNING: Take a minute in the morning to write down a word or phrase that sets the intention and tone for yourself and what you are focused on for the day.

EVENING: Write down words or phrases that ‘distill the essence’ of your day. You could even use the list of layers shared earlier, writing down what you observed about your interaction with co-workers, family and most importantly, yourself!

MUSIC & MANTRA – Sing, hum, silently create sound in your mind

  • A centuries old strategy that can support your body, nervous system, mind and emotions and this current momentum of life
  • Mantra to support a powerful, short practice – SA TA NA MA
    • Translation: SA-Birth, TA-Life, NA-Death, MA-Rebirth
    • Add movement as you say or sing the mantra – palms open 
      • As you say/sing SA – Thumb and first finger touch
      • As you say/sing TA – Thumb and middle finger touch
      • As you say/sing NA – Thumb and ring finger touch
      • As you say/sing MA – Thumb and last finger touch
      • Repeat to create a shift from ‘cruise control’

Now take a deep beath. As always this is an ongoing practice. So, what caught your attention within the words and strategies shared here? There is so much more to explore, learn and integrate when it comes to habits. For now trust you are in good company with this process. 

And…Don’t forget to grab a big piece of your favorite chocolate!

Reduce Your ‘Coronasomnia’ and Get Your Sleep Back on Track with Yoga

by Mary Hilliker, RDN, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT

When sleep escapes you and fatigue is your daytime companion, it’s time to evaluate what actions you can take to improve sleep.  Your yoga toolbox has many tools, but you need to know which ones to apply to your situation.   

Insomnia was a major health issue across the population before the pandemic.  As routines were disrupted and stress amplified during the pandemic, more people are suffering with insomnia or ‘coronasomnia’.  Occasional sleeplessness is part of the human condition but chronic problems with sleeplessness can take a toll on physical and mental health.

The roots of sleeplessness may be related to stress, age, hormonal changes, pain, digestive distress, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, other health issues, medication side effects, lack of exercise or the wrong timing of it for your body, diet, or lifestyle routines.  Yoga is especially helpful for reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, pain, and digestive distress – all big disruptors of sound sleep.  Yoga also creates awareness around factors that impact the body’s natural rhythms of wakefulness and sleepiness.

The tools of yoga are skillfully applied based on the characteristics of sleeplessness.  Some people have trouble falling asleep.  Others wake in the middle of the night.  The early risers may wake at 4 am even though the alarm is set for 6 am.  And some individuals sleep for 8 – 10 hours yet never feel rested and refreshed.  An assessment of what is happening for you is a first step in applying the tools that may be helpful.

One of the issues that has emerged during the pandemic is drastic changes in personal, work, school, and household routines.  Working parents of school age children have had some of the most drastic shifts in their routines.  These shifts in routines can be a major source of sleep problems.  One way to approach this is to see what is now returning to normal as we emerge out of the pandemic (hopefully!) and what might still be hanging on as a habit formed during the pandemic.  Some habits are major sleep disruptors – caffeine after mid-day, lack of exercise, no outside time or natural light before mid-day, high sugar consumption, and late in the day heavy meals, consumption of alcohol, too much alcohol and use of electronic devices.

Yoga tools that may be used for sleeplessness include yoga postures, breath adaptation in the postures, breathing practices, guided relaxation, meditation, or sound.  If you work with a Yoga Therapist to improve sleep and reduce daytime fatigue, you might work on:

  • Setting the stage for better sleep with lifestyle techniques and environmental controls
  • Unwinding tightness, tension and pain using yoga postures
  • Using yoga postures and breathing to fall asleep
  • Techniques you can use in bed when you wake during the night
  • Ideas for managing waking early
  • Quick and easy techniques for dealing with daytime fatigue
  • Changing attitudes and stress around managing sleeplessness.

One of the most common experiences of sleeplessness is not being able to fall asleep because of stress and repetitive negative or worrisome thoughts or strong emotions.  Keep in mind that the more stressful the day, the more valuable some movement and breathing to reduce stress hormones.  Yoga tools that may be applied in this situation include lifestyle changes, and a short evening yoga practice of simple postures with breath adaptation, a short breathing practice that promotes calmness, and guided relaxation or meditation.

Here’s one scenario for falling asleep at night:

  • Write down any reminders you need to offload from the chatter in your mind to empty yourself of the day.
  • Turn off the electronics.
  • Take a hot shower or bath.
  • Do a few favorite yoga postures slowly and with progressively lengthening exhales through 4 – 6 repetitions. You might start with a standing posture, then do a kneeling posture, then transition to your back to do a few postures.
  • Crawl into bed and visualize a favorite place in nature. Keep that visualization in your mind’s eye.
  • Make your inhale extremely easy such as 4 sec – 6 sec. Then progressively make the exhale longer (4 breaths with each step that you increase the exhale) until it is twice as long as your inhale.

Whether you need better sleep, more sleep, or better energy during the day, your yoga toolbox has options for skillful action.  You can learn how to use your yoga tools for sweet dreams at night and vitality and clear thinking during the day.

Fresh Air, Perspectives & Possibilities

By Heather Van Dalfsen, MEd. C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist and Viniyoga Teacher

Your outdoor ‘green space’ yoga practice invites you to reconnect with the earth, stretch to the sky, inhale fresh oxygen and exhale a sense of groundedness – present for even one breath cycle, especially after such a significant year of change, challenges and growth.

Sip in the sweet benefits of outdoor yoga:

  • Be a Kid Again – sense you are connected to the ground and reach to the sky
  • Practice Concentration – deepen your awareness and your practice of being present
  • Hone Your Proprioception – understanding the advanced sense of your body in space that helps you with stability, balance and movement
  • Plug in to the Totality of the Experience – be one with the beauty from birds to bugs, sun and clouds.
  • Engage Your 5 Senses and Be Inspired – reconnect to what is important to you

For a personal practice, rolling out your mat on your patio, in the grass or beside your favorite water provides a familiar space to take 10-15 minutes to breathe and stretch into your favorite postures and movements.

Group classes in ‘green space’ invites you to find balance with your heightened five senses and to practice a sense of tranquility and calm.

The grass that tickles your hand, the birdsong that makes you look into the trees and the bug that wants to join you on your mat also provide you the opportunity to stop, breathe, observe and be present.

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few,” shares Shunryu Suzuki, author of ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.’

Be engaged, be curious, be open to your beginners mind this summer and practice creating fresh perspectives and possibilities that can be supportive through life’s ease and challenges.

You will be welcomed to these Summer 2021 outdoor classes:

Yoga atop Rib Mountain – Outdoor, In-Person class and streamed live June 7 through September 27, 5:30 pm at the amphitheater. A lot of space to roll out your mat, reconnect with people, nature and what you need to re-center. State park sticker needed if parking near the amphitheater. Join Heather Van Dalfsen – Paid pre-class registration appreciated. More Details + Register HERE

Night Out at the Woodson – Yoga in the Sculpture Garden First Thursdays, June 3, July 1 and August 5, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm – Free to all ages. Join Mary Kluz within the expansive space of sun and shade in the Sculpture Garden. More Details + Register HERE

Be Like the Wildflowers: Return to the Core of Who You Are, Rest, Digest, Bloom

By Mary Hilliker, RDN, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT 

How can we emerge from this year?   Let’s just say it.  It’s been a crazy year.  Uncertainty and quickly changing circumstances have dominated our lives.  Situations and events that tear at the heart have happened with greater frequency.  Even the most balanced and steady among us have felt stress, anxiety, loss, and grief.  I’ve been thinking about how wildflowers have some answers for us.  

Every year wildflowers return to the core of who they are, allowing their brilliance and show-stopping displays to whither and return to the earth as compost.  I’m not suggesting that you turn yourself into compost right now, but prioritizing some time to be with yourself in quiet reflection is a great alternative.  Turn off the news.  Shut down the electronics.  Let nature be a therapeutic balm for your senses.  Breathe.  Courageously know yourself.  

One of our students has a ritual of watching the sun rise over the Wisconsin River.  It’s his contemplative time of day.  Rituals of connecting to nature, the cycles of the day or season, and faith are all powerful ways to return to the core of who you are.  

Breathing deeply is also another way of returning to Self, that part of you that is unchanging.  Self is that center that is unchanged by the drama all around.  And the quickest way to return to that core is via the breath.  Even 12 deep breaths can lead you home.    

Wildflowers rest.  In all my years of teaching yoga, teaching teachers, mentoring students, and working with clients on therapeutic practices, I’ve never seen a time where people have been so in need of deep rejuvenating rest.  The chronic stress and anxieties of this last year drain our systems.  We can become like wildflowers without any food, water, or sunshine.  

Movement practices like gentle breath-infused yoga postures, Tai Chi, embodiment, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) or any movement done in a meditative way are all wonderful ways to slow down and provide nourishment in the form of circulation to muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia, organs, glands, the brain, and entire nervous system.  It is just like giving a wildflower some oak leaf mulch, warm spring rain and a good dose of sunshine.  Even if you are extremely attracted to a hard driving workout, it’s supportive of your immunity to do a gentle practice at least once a week to rest and rejuvenate.  

Guided relaxation and meditation also help with deep rest.  Even 5 – 10 minutes of relaxing music with legs up on an ottoman or chair or up the wall will signal to your body to do its “rest and digest” function.  This is particularly helpful to our immune system and can support the work of your Covid-19 vaccine.  

Wildflowers digest food, water, and sunshine to emerge in the spring.  We too need nutritious food, water, and light to digest the experiences of this last year.  There are many ways to digest what has happened.  Loss and grief and coping with change looks different for each person.  Prioritizing some time for what helps you is a good start.  As we emerge, we risk jumping back on hamster wheels that are not really our own.  Find what really nourishes you and helps you process what happened this last year.  Some people meditate, some journal, some take counsel in a good friend, some pray, and others return to activities that help them feel like they are contributing to the greater good.  It is enormously helpful to have a process that helps you feel like you are digesting your own individual experience to reflect on what’s been lost, what remains and what feels more important than ever before. 

And that brings us to blooming.  Without fail, the wildflowers return each spring.  From delicate, almost Victorian-like preciousness to bold and strong displays, they return.  They have used the gift of returning to their core, resting, and digesting to emerge once again.    

The lessons for us as we emerge are perhaps simple.  Be like the wildflowers:

  • Return to the core of who you are for at least 5 minutes each day.  Take in nature through the senses.  Breathe deeply.  Turn off the drama of the world for some time every day.   
  • Prioritize some rest in a way that helps your body achieve its most optimal immunity.  We all need that right now.  In fact, the entire world is banking on every human building immunity.  Schedule your restful self-care.  
  • Digest and process the experiences of this last year in a way that suits you.  Reflect on what has been lost, what remains and what feels more important than ever before.  And set your sights to that light of inspiration.  
  • As the time comes, bloom!  Don’t feel any need to rush the process of emerging.  Let what is meant to manifest in your life do so.  Honor the cycle that we are in right now as it is likely to be different with some small and large changes.    

May your mind-body practice (and vaccine) support you like soil, food, water, and sunshine nourishes those wildflowers. 

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/

Yoga: Function in Life Over Perfect Form on the Mat

by Sally Konkol, RN, BSN, RYT-200

“Can you reach that bowl on the top shelf?”

We have all been there.  Up on our tip toes, arm stretched as much as possible.  Needing just another half inch.  “There, I got it!”  It is times like that when I continue to appreciate the functional benefits of yoga for everyday living.

Yoga movements, postures, and breathing practices help to keep us strong and balanced.  Moving our arms, bending forward, lateral bending, twisting and balance are part of everyday living, and part of any yoga practice.

  • Bending forward: think of tying your shoes; bending and reaching into the dryer for that last sock; or weeding the garden.
  • Lateral bending: think of reaching under the couch for that dog toy; or washing windows.
  • Twisting: think of looking in your blind spot while driving; or shoveling snow.
  • Balance: think of reaching that top shelf on your tip toes.

Having strong legs, a strong back, and a strong core all aid in keeping us steady while we walk, climb stairs or anything else we do on any given day.  Moving our bodies stimulates our circulation and lymphatic system, aiding in immunity.  Weight bearing exercise helps to keep our bones strong.  And the mindfulness of yoga helps decrease the stress that everyone has.  This is what we can do for ourselves, this is self-care.

Here are some self-care practices you can try at home:

Balancing Tadasana (balance posture)

Begin by standing with feet hip distance apart.  Feel grounded and steady.  On an inhale, sweep your arms out to the side and up above your head.  At the same time, lift your heals off the floor.  On the exhale, sweep arms back down to your sides, as you bring your heals back down to the floor.  Move intentionally with your inhale and exhale.  Practice this posture 6 times.

 

Ardha Pārśvottānāsana (lateral forward bending posture)

Stand with left foot forward, right foot turned slightly outward, right arm overhead, and left arm folded behind your back.  On exhale, bend forward, bending left knee slightly, bringing chest toward left thigh, and right hand to left foot.  On inhale, lift chest and arm until torso is parallel to the ground.  On exhale, return to the forward bend position.  On inhale, return to starting position.  Moving with your breath. Repeat 4 times, then switch sides.

 

Sukasana Parivrtti (seated twist posture)

Start with a comfortable seated position on your mat or in a chair.  Place left hand on right knee.  Place right hand behind your hips.  On exhale, twist to the right, looking over your right shoulder.  On inhale, return to starting position.  Repeat 4 times, then switch sides.

 

Mindful Minute (breathing practice)

Inhale slowly, and think peace

Exhale slowly, and think calm

Take 8-10 slow, deep purposeful breaths

 

Think of that top shelf.

Can you reach your goals for self-care?

You can join me on Wednesdays at 4:15 for the Zoom class “Yoga for Self-Care: Creating Calm with Movement and Breathing.  This class is intended for beginners, but all are welcome.  Also, this class will be recorded and is available for 5 days.

Sally Konkol, RN, BSN, RYT-200, has been a yoga practitioner for 8 years and was certified as a yoga teacher by River Flow Yoga Teacher Training School in 2020.  Her yoga teaching is straight forward and practical, helping the practice feel relevant and accessible to new and experienced students.