Promoting good health and inner peace to all the residents and visitors of St. John are two key objectives for all the St. John yoga teachers. Getting the word out to people about when, where and what yoga classes are available on the island was a real challenge. So the St. John yoga teachers united and together have formed Do Yoga St. John, a yoga community website communicating the when, where, what and who for all the yoga classes and events being held on St. John. The website contains a full daily calendar of all the regular yoga classes with information about each yoga teacher’s certification, styles, and experience. The website also provides information on the locations for yoga on the island.
In addition to the website, all can join the Do Yoga St. John Facebook page. Facebook is a perfect venue for all the yoga teachers and locations to update class information, to post recent pictures and to provide details of upcoming yoga events.
CONCORDIA YOGA SCHEDULE STARTING OCTOBER 8th forward until sometime in November when all the teachers are back on island. Then we will revise the class schedule and get the word out to you. For now, classes will be held at 7:30am and 9:00am. Generally, the 7:30 class will be Active and the 9:00 class will be Gentle/Beginner. We also welcome Thais to Concordia. In addition to teaching here, she is planning on teaching paddle board yoga soon come…can’t wait.
SO HERE IT IS…OCTOBER CONCORDIA TEACHERS
YOGA ON THE HIGH SEAS – By Catherine Turner
Big news! Sandwich’s, now Catherine’s article, “Yoga on the High Seas” has been published by The Elephant Journal. If her article gets 2000 views within 24 hours, it will be placed on the front page under “featured articles”. If it gets a featured spot, it will be big time amazing for her. You can help by simply clicking the link. Want to do more? Share it on you favorite social media or add a comment to the end of the article. Any way you can get the word out will help huge.
Find Table, (on your hands and knees – hands spread wide pushing into the earth, wrist under the shoulders, knees under the hips…spine is long.)
Then toes tucked under,
On the exhale, push into the hands, lift the knees about five inches from the mat, bring the chest through the arms toward the thighs, tilt your tailbone up toward the sky, straightening legs and lowering the head
Extend the torso up, pushing the flat palms, fingers spread into the earth, feel the hands rooting into the earth with all their power
Melt shoulder blades onto your backs and away from your ears with chest melting to the earth
Heels of the feet extending to the mat.
Breath. Stay here for a few breaths. This is another resting position. It may not feel like it now but it will someday.
Bend the knees toward the floor, return to tabletop, return to child pose.
Alan Finger, founder of Yoga Zone and Be Yoga, is one of my favorite yoga teachers. His book, Chakra Yoga – Balancing Energy for Physical, Spiritual, and Mental Well Being is one of my “go to” books. I have also recently read The Science of Yoga – The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad. After reading The Science of Yoga, I felt a little unsettled particularly by Broad’s descriptions of the risks. Although his final conclusion is the benefits of yoga outweigh the risks; it was still contra to my view of yoga. I always tell my students to find their edge but not exceed that edge, use the breath and relax, don’t pull or push into a pose. I have been injured in yoga and I believe it was my fault for not letting go of the ego and pushing beyond that edge. I missed the balance of the physical, spiritual and mental.
So in reflecting upon both books, I find that Chakra Yoga and looking for the right balance is key to reducing many of the risks with yoga. Balance brings healing and harmony to the yoga practice and I believe is key to finding your inner peace. We have many causes in our lives that bring disunity to the physical, mental and spiritual balance. For many of us, muscular tensions (especially neck, shoulders, and backs), poor skeletal alignment, negative thinking and dealing with difficult people greatly impact our balance in life.
So the Science of Yoga book has stimulated even more thinking about yoga, science and medicine. The US population is 4.6% of the world population. We consume 80% of the opioids from pharmaceuticals companies and 99% of the Vicodin produced in the world. We also take a great deal of antidepressants, like 23.3 million of us in the US population. The US has increased the use of antidepressants by 400% since a 1988-1994 study. Surprisingly, other countries like Iceland, Australia and Canada take even more. When you think about the risks of yoga and the benefits, and the risk of these pharmaceuticals…which path do you want to follow. Yoga is the path to find a profound sense of equilibrium in our life. One must go within and connect.
The Physical Practice
The focus of strengthening, stretching and aligning the body is the basis of the asana practice. When done without ego and with conscious awareness, the asanas bring clarity to the mind and a sense of well being to the body. Through the physical practice, we can quiet the every chattering mind. We can improve our posture and realign our skeletal system. With the asana practice, we can breathe fully, enhance digestion and relax the nervous system. Many of Broad’s reviews of various studies support these benefits of yoga.
One can begin to find balance in the body, known as Hatha. Ha is the energy of the sun (heat and power). Tha is the energy of the moon (coolness and flexibility). So when you practice your asanas think of Ha representing your muscular strengthening and Tha as your relaxation. Getting these in balance can move you forward in your practice without injury and brings a feeling of lightness, space and union.
The Mental Practice
Yoga is breath, breath is yoga. We use the breath to quiet the mind in each pose. Practicing the asanas requires a great deal of attention to details, which can occupy the mind and does not allow much room for you to think about the chattering stuff. Practice quiets the mind. If you are able to focus on the breath and use the physical practice to draw your mind inward, your practice becomes a moving mediation. Studies have found that meditation can help with chronic pain, unexplained fatigue, addictions, headaches, anxiety and depression.
The Spiritual Practice
So once you have the physical and the mental parts, how do you find the spiritual to complete the balance. I believe yoga can connect you to the oneness of the universe and tap the divine energy. Whatever your philosophy or religious beliefs, we are one human spirit sharing this planet. Each individual needs to explore their spiritual side; everyone has their own path. Feeling lighter through the asana practice and quieting the mind clears the path for this exploration.
“You contain the knowledge of everything in the universe-all you need to do is find it within you.” … Alan Finger
Article is written and submitted by Nancy Stromp
Cat/Cow -Marjarisana Bitilasana – Inhale (Cow) – the movement starts in the pelvis or tailbone, slowly rotating the tailbone up to the sky, dropping the abdomen down to the earth and pulling the chest up between the shoulders, extend look up. Head is the last movement not the first. Exhale (Cat) – the movement starts in the pelvis or tailbone, slowly rotating the tailbone down to the earth, pulling the abdomen up to get the navel to toward the spine in a full body arch up to the sky, head moves down with chin tucking in last. Think scary halloween cat. The movement should feel like a wave through the body always starting at the tailbone area and finishing with the head, not the other way around. Two more Cat/Cow poses very carefully and deliberately thinking about the flow of the body as a wave scooping down and arching up. Relax in table.
There might not be anything new in the information or news on basics of staying healthy, but maybe there will be new thinking about the “how” to implement health in your life this New Year.
Recess or Play – Getting the exercise you want
Find an activity that you are passionate about…walking, swimming, hiking, yoga, SUP, or whatever. We have so many options here on St. John or wherever you may live. If you don’t have a passion, experiment, try a little of it all and see what sticks.
Maybe set a goal…if you are thinking about running, maybe it is too late for 2014’s 8 Tuff Miles, but you can start by getting involved this year with the event and plan to run or walk in it next year for 2015. For 2014, we have the Beach to Beach swim over Memorial Day Weekend and the new SUP Competition (Stand Up Paddleboard) event with the Friends of the VI National Park. You can even join the Friends to help as a volunteer. Through hands-on work, you’ll learn new skills, share your knowledge with others, gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Park and our community, and have fun. You may fall in love with hiking.
Buddy up! Find a friend to join you on your journey for better health. Studies show if you have a buddy, you will be more likely to keep the commitment to play.
Weight – Getting to comfortable
Instead of looking for a number on the scale, think about getting to a place where you feel comfortable in your skin and clothes. Maintaining a weight where you feel freedom of movement, think moving is easy and walking is easy. In this era of replacement, whether it be knee, hip or ankle, the additional weight on these significant joints can make a serious impact on their function and on your movement.
From a Yoga Journal article, a 2013 review of 17 clinical trials concluded that a regular yoga practice which includes asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing) and Savasana (deep relaxation) practiced for 60 minutes, three times a week, is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy weight. Also, yoga helps with all these joint concerns too.
Here we go, you have already heard it…eating…you know it.
- More veggies, less meat
- More fresh and organic produce, less frozen, canned and processed foods
- Less salt
- Less alcohol…only one or two drinks a day for good health
So on our island, how to find good healthy options.
- Josephine’s Organic Produce in Coral Bay.
- Starfish and St. John Market both have organic options
- Pickles in Paradise – almost everything on the menu plus their special nights including Vegetarian Dinners on Thursdays and Locally Sourced food on Saturdays.
- Most restaurants have healthy options… so think salads (with dressing on the side) and baked fish…narrow your selection down so you are not tempted with the high fat selections.
Also have one or two large glasses of water before you eat. Keep hydrated all day long.
If you are looking for something called a diet…think The Mediterranean diet. This diet is a modern nutritional recommendation inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. You can find details on the internet to help with this option.
Sleep – Getting the rest you need
Making sure you get at least seven or more hours of sleep every night. Turn off the TV or the computer, and pick up a book or magazine instead. Move away from the light…of the super stimulations of TVs and computers.
Use pranayama (breath control) to relax before sleep. Many pranayamas cool down the nervous system making the transition into sleep easier. One easy pranayama to remember is to inhale to a count of 5, double the number to 10, and exhale to the new number of 10. You can pick any number for your inhale, just double it for your exhale.
Nap in the afternoon…take a 20 to 30 minute siesta in the afternoon. Any longer, and it can impact your night sleep. But at 20 – 30 minutes, the nap can re-energize you for the rest of the day.
HAPPY NEW YEAR…HAPPY NEW YOU!!!
Our yoga experience on our small and beautiful island continues to grow with the addition of three new yoga classes.
- At Concordia, we now have Yin Yang Yoga on Sunday mornings at 7:30 with Heather .
- At the Recreation Center in Cruz Bay, we have Power Yoga on Saturday mornings at 9:00 with Lindsey.
- At Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay, we have Yoga Exploration on Monday evenings at 5:30 – 7:00PM with Patricia and Andrew.
So let’s explore these new classes.
Yin Yang Yoga
Yin Yang Yoga is designed to offer the balancing effects of yin (passive) and yang (active) styles of yoga and allow you to reach deeper into your practice. This class draws upon the more internal, quiet and longer held postures, balanced with the more active, moving and dynamic or heat producing yoga postures to create a holistic body experience.
So what is the Yin? Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with asanas that are held for comparatively long periods of time. It was founded and first taught in the US in the late 1970s by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin-style yoga is now being taught across North America and in Europe, due in large part to the teaching of Yin Yoga teachers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.
Yin Yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. The practice of holding yoga poses or asanas for long periods of time has been part of traditional yoga practice, both in the Hatha yoga tradition of India and in the Taoist yoga tradition of the greater China area. Contemporary schools of hatha yoga have also advocated holding some poses for relatively long periods of time including BKS Iyengar.
And now for the Yang? We are more familiar with the Yang. The typical vinyasa flow bringing us a more active asanas practice. The Yang increases our flexibility and strength as we move through various asanas at quicker rate. This activity directs energy and flow into the muscles and superficial connective tissues.
And coming together of the two? From an article by Sarah Powers in 2001, she describes Yin Yang yoga as reaching deeper both mentally and physically into a very integrated and satisfying practice. The Yin part of the class comes first. This holding of the asanas before the muscles are warm allows energy and prana to reach the deeper connective tissues of the joints. Fluids have time to get to the joints and deep tissues allowing them to get “juicer” and stretch appropriately. Then it is time for the Yang. Once the muscles as well as the joints have awakened, the Yang brings in the more vigorous movements to build strength and challenge the body.
Power Yoga – Pushing your edges
Power yoga is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga and incorporates Ashtanga yoga. The term came into common usage in the mid 1990s, in an attempt to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students. Its emphasis is on strength and flexibility.
For a brief view of the history behind Power Yoga, let’s explore its core: Ashtanga Yinyasa Yoga. Ashtanga is a style of yoga codified and popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. Pattabhi Jois began his yoga studies in 1927 at the age of 12, and by 1948 had established an institute for teaching the specific yoga practice known as Ashtanga (“eight-limbed”) Vinyasa Yoga. The term vinyāsa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. The length of one inhale or one exhale dictates the length of time spent transitioning between asanas. Two American yoga teachers are most often credited with the invention of power yoga: Beryl Bender Birch, based in New York, and Bryan Kest, based in Los Angeles. Not coincidentally, both these teachers had studied with Pattabhi Jois. Using the term power yoga differentiated the intense, flowing style of yoga they were teaching from the gentle stretching and meditation that many Americans associated with yoga.
Power Yoga has been argued to be the fundamental style of Hatha yoga that allowed for cultural acceptance of yoga in North America. According to the North American Studio Alliance, 30 million people are practicing yoga in the US. This includes practitioners not just of Power Yoga, but the entire practice of Yoga. Power yoga has been thought of as a physically demanding practice, which can be successful at channeling the hyperactivity of active minds. This system can also be used as a vessel for helping calm ongoing chatter of the mind, reducing stress and teaching extroverted personalities to redirect their attention to their internal experience. Power Yoga will most likely appeal to people who are already quite fit, enjoy exercising, and want a minimal amount of chanting and meditation with their yoga. Prepare to work hard and work up a sweat.
The Yoga Exploration classes offer an organic, internal and exploratory approach to access your core energy, release internal holding patterns, and help you feel balanced, energized and refreshed. Invited by the breath, imagery and guided movement, these gentle-yet powerful classes will focus on helping you create more space, fluidity, and ease of movement. Patricia and Andrew will explore Asana from the inside out, meditation and the breath,
occasionally partner poses, and restorative poses. There is usually a short
Free Form Chapter, where they put on a music playlist to help you pause, listen and practice together what you feel guided to do. Classes start on Monday, January 13th.