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The practice, the music, the November Challenge!
7 October 2015

The practice, the music, the November Challenge!
7 October 2015

The practice, the music, the November Challenge!

Kripalu, Lake Mahkeenac, Lenox MA
I’m recently back from 6 days at Kripalu, an absolute luxury and much needed opportunity to experience a retreat for body, mind and soul. Each day brought different gifts, rich experiences, astonishing revelations, challenges and struggles, and if I share them all here with you you’ll be clicking on out of this email in no time, so I will try to distill it. 

As I mentioned in my last email blog, I took a Yoga Nidra immersion, and that in itself was a lovely, restorative and renewing practice. I had thought it would give me some additional tools for teaching this nourishing practice, but the truth is that this particular method for teaching Nidra did not align with my own skills and interests as an instructor. Wonderful to be on the receiving end, but I knew pretty quickly that I did not have ambitions to teach a similar style of Nidra. But, more about that another time. 

What perhaps had an even more profound effect on me was realizing, around day 2 or so, that what I really wanted out of my time there, all of my time there, was to dive into mindfulness. And, if you are paying attention, Kripalu reminds you constantly that this is available to you. I have been there probably 8 to 10 times since we moved here in 2002. I think in general my intentions in attending workshops have been governed by a driven to-do list of learning, immersing myself, doing, grabbing every possible opportunity to learn. This isn’t a bad thing, but when you are there for a primarily physical workshop, this kind of driven need to push and push can take its toll in achy joints, soreness, injury. Frankly, I cannot roll that way anymore. I don’t enjoy it, the severe deterioration of my genetically problematic shoulders has made that kind of aggressive greed for more and more physical practice untenable, unpleasant, and impossible. 

The mindfulness piece taught me this: “Mindfulness” is a big, trendy, and increasingly mainstream word. We generally have good feelings about this word. But, it doesn’t work, as a practice, UNLESS WE PRACTICE! 

Simple, I know. But. Just because I think I know what mindfulness is I cannot assume it is automatically a part of my yoga, my relationships, my politics, etc. You have to actually practice mindfulness, to reap its many rewards. So, at Kripalu I practiced. Sitting on a cushion I practiced, walking down the hall I practiced, in asana practice I…practiced. Eating, hiking, in the sauna, I practiced. Bits at a time, I practiced. And by the third or fourth day of my time there I became aware of real, actual, shifts in how I felt. I made everything else less important than the conscious, intermittent practice of mindfulness. I felt a discernible lightening of the daily headache I carry with me. I felt more genuinely centered, patient, happy, pain free, self-loving and compassionate than I have for a long time. 

So….if you look at the website you’ll see that I’ve posted a link to a great, free online Mindulfness Summit happening through this month. (Thank you, Yashi, for sending me the link!). It’s a great way hear varied voices on the topic of meditation and mindfulness, as well as some instruction, so I encourage you to check it out. And, inspired by this and my time at Kripalu, I am putting together my own “‘November Challenge” which I hope to flesh out this and next week. For now, look down the page and you will see the idea of “SIT!” outlined.

SIT! The November Mindfulness Challenge

Let’s commit to short, daily meditation during the month of November! I would like to invite everyone to participate in this experiment, to commit to a daily, short, seated (or lying down) meditation practice (5-15 minutes) every day in November. I will put together an email list so I can keep in touch with all who want to take part. Throughout the month of November, I will send a daily, short “prompt” or technique, or intention, or image, for your next day’s meditation, which you can use or not as you like. At the end of November, or beginning of December, I will schedule a group session to share our experiences in a casual, nonjudgmental way, maybe share some snacks, and have a 20 or 30 minute meditation all together in the studio space. This could be a powerful way to transition into deeper Autumn, and to help us feel clear and grounded before the holiday season.

If you are interested contact me and I will start collecting email addresses and/or set up a closed facebook group where we can communicate. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them. 

Where’s the music?

You may be wondering what happened to our music at Upper Valley Yoga. In a nutshell, music licensing agencies are going after yoga studios and requiring the purchase of licenses to play any kind of music during a class. Legally, it counts as a “performance” and somewhere along the way someone realized there was money to be made in going after yoga studios. This has resulted in at least one devastating lawsuit that closed down a studio. Yoga studios do not make much money, because of the cost of skilled instructors, so the additional expense is a significant hit to most of us, especially smaller studios. For a month I received somewhat threatening emails and voicemails daily, and I finally decided, until I figure out how to account for the significant yearly cost of the license (3 of them–there are 3 different agencies) to simply take music out of the equation. For those of you who enjoy music in class, I hope you will bear with me while I try to figure out how to afford it without raising prices at the studio. You could think of it as an opportunity to refine your listening skills around the more subtle music of your own breath


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The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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Newcomers! 3 for $30

If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

Single Class, $18

Drop in to any regular weekly class

Single Class, Student or Senior* Rate, $15

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

10-Class Pass, $145

Expires after one year

10-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $130

Expires after one year

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

5-Class Pass, $80

Expires after 6 months

5-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $70

Expires after 6 months.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

Unlimited Yoga Passes

Monthly, Auto-Renew with credit card, $99/mo

Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

One month, unlimited, $150

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

One month, Student or Senior* rate, $140

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

3-Month Unlimited, $390

Unlimited yoga, 3 months

If you don’t yet have a mat, borrow one from us and please clean it afterward with the mat wipes.

We have a limited, need-based scholarship fund available for those who are struggling to pay for classes; please email or call us to inquire. We also gratefully accept donations for that fund in any amount. In addition, there are occasional work/study opportunities. If you are interested in being on the work/study list, please let us know!

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