yoga

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Upcoming Appearances, Workshops, etc

Published November 20, 2014 by ireneglasse

The cold wind blows, but light and warmth glow brightly within!  I have a few upcoming events you should know about, all available to brighten the long, cold darkness of winter.

Wednesday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Eve), 7 pm
Harmonious Healing at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio

Relax and Re-Center before the Holiday Weekend with a special offering from studio owner Aimee McBride! Harmonious Healing incorporates Yoga Nidra, Somatic Yoga and Reiki (provided by Reiki Master Irene Jericho during the class). Find release in mind, body and spirit as Aimee guides you through gentle movement and meditation while you receive light healing energy work. Yoga Nidra, or ‘yogi sleep’ is among the deepest possible states of relaxation one can attain while still maintaining full consciousness. Lucid dreaming is the Western term used to denote a practice similar to yoga nidra. Somatic Yoga offers exercises that reprogram muscles to dissolve chronic pain, dramatically improve flexibility, regain strength, and leave you with an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by a laying on of hands. A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats body, emotions, mind and spirit. creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing.  Facebook event here.
 Cost: $20, click here to register
Saturday, November 29th, 9 am and 11 am
Thanksgiving Recovery Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Come work off the calories and release any stress from Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  The 9 am class is an All Levels Prana Flow Yoga Class lasting an hour and a half.  I plan to do a lot of detox-supporting asana to help return our bodies to homeostasis after the Thanksgiving feasting.  The 11 am class is a Level One–perfect for those beginning their practice or simply looking for a more gentle flow.
Click here to register
Sunday, December 7th at 7 pm
Full Moon Labyrinth Walk at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
Need a chance to recenter in the midst of the holiday crush?  Come enjoy the beauty and peace of the Labyrinth by the light of the full moon! The labyrinth will be illuminated from 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm. Everyone is welcome. During the cooler months, we take our Labyrinth practice indoors, and will be walking the Rainbow Seed Labyrinth, a canvas Classical-pattern Labyrinth. Please remember clean socks or slippers to walk the Labyrinth in.  If you haven’t walked a Labyrinth before, there is no ceremony or ritual. We put out the little flickering LED tealights and just keep the space open 🙂  Please bring a small contribution for the UUCF.  Facebook event here.
Friday, December 12th, 7 pm
Mala Circle/Mala Making Workshop at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
The yogic answer to the Stitch’n’Bitch!  Join our Mala Circle to learn and relax while you create your very own mala!  Free for those who already  know how to make a mala and bring their own supplies, $20 for those needing the workshop instruction. Ananda Shala Instructor Irene Jericho will share her method for creating a Mala, a strand of 108 beads used for meditation.Create one for yourself or as a beautiful gift for a special person in your life.  A mala is a necklace of 108 beads commonly worn and used by yogis for for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. This practice is known in Sanskrit as “japa.” Malas are as personal as the yogis who wear them–let your creativity shine in this fun, interactive workshop. Irene will provide good beading thread to string your mala, instruction, a handout detailing the technique we will use, examples of mantras, and other tips and tricks for getting the most out of your mala.  Facebook event and supply list here, click here to register if you plan to take the workshop portion.
Thursday, January 1st, 7 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick
New Year’s Day Purification Ritual
Enter 2015 from a centered place of peace. Release the energies of the last year, and set a harmonious tone for the year to come. Sacred Space will be held from 7 to 9 pm in the Sanctuary of the UUCF.  Attendees are invited to move through the Elements, releasing the shadows of 2014 as they go. Elemental Guides will be available at each Quarter to offer a way to move into the energy of a new year. End your Purification journey with a walk to the center of the Labyrinth to receive any messages for the new year. All are welcome to attend.  Free will donations are welcome.
Friday, January 16th, 7 pm
Darkest Yoga at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Inspired by Black Yo)))ga in Pittsburgh and Tough Love Yoga in Atlanta while paying homage to our area’s own Darkest Hour, Darkest Yoga combines flow yoga and atmospheric heavy metal to serve the greater Washington, D.C. community.  Irene Jericho (RYT 200) will be guiding you through your 75-minute moving meditation with some killer tunes over the PA. Enjoy a stripped-down, alignment-focused, no-fluffy-stuff yoga class with Ananda Shala’s own Heavy Metal Yogini.  Cost: $15 in advance/ $20 at the door
Sunday, February 1st, 7 pm
Kindling the Fire Within: An Imbolc Yoga Practice at Ananda Shala Yoga and Pilates Studio
Winter’s darkness lingers with us still. Naked branches scrape the sky and night falls early. We crave the warmth of summer while we navigate an often snow-covered landscape. Yet in the midst of night, there is a glimmer of brightness–a tangible reminder of the sun-filled days yet to come. This light in the cold winter stillness is Imbolc. The word Imbolc is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or are expecting new life very soon. Join Irene Jericho for a transformative Imbolc yoga practice as we ignite the fire within and find warmth from the heart out. Live hand drumming will accompany the journey from darkness to light, from stillness to asana, from silence to music. Ignite your own Winter Fire, and allow the light to carry your practice into spring.  Participants are encouraged to wear white or light-colored clothing to practice in.  Cost: $20
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Integration (or, ‘Reflections from Twilight Covening’)

Published October 15, 2013 by ireneglasse

I walk around feeling like a few different people.  I know that’s the case for a lot of folks–we have faces we wear when we’re at work, faces when we’re at home, faces we wear with our extended families…we all do this to a greater or lesser extent.  For me, it’s uncomfortable.  And perhaps it’s because my faces are at extremes.  Reconciling the metal-head Valkyrie with the encouraging, motivating yoga teacher with the pagan-priestess-labyrinth-facilitating-tarot-reader with the gardening-food-preserving-cooks-dinner-every-night-domestic-goddess is difficult.  People who know me as one face don’t always know the others.  And sometimes those worlds collide in front of people, and it’s always a little odd.  ‘I didn’t know you were in a band!’  ‘You teach YOGA?  Really?  You don’t seem the type.’  ‘Why do you know so much about plants?’

I’ve been trying to think of a way, of ways, to merge my different masks into one face for months now.  Into a more authentic, truthful self.  As ever in my path, I’m trying to find the center: the kernel of truth at the heart of a larger picture.

This year at Twilight Covening (no relation to sparkly vampires – previous post on that here), I was a part of Camel Clan, a yoga-based clan.  I participated in the yoga clan at the retreat two years ago.  Coming back as a yoga teacher was a simply amazing experience.  My clan leaders were kind and generous enough to offer teaching opportunities to me; to allow me to assist in some practices.  And I discovered something.  Teaching yoga, in a Pagan environment, where the Priestess and Yogi become the same person, is amazing.  It’s fulfilling beyond words.  I have a few things I truly love to do: teach, explore spirituality, and express creativity.  I find ways to do those things in almost every aspect of my life.  And they all came together in one little group of people, and it was harmonious, beautiful, grounding and uplifting all at once.  I fell back in love with yoga, back in love with mysticism.  And I hadn’t even realized I was getting a little cynical again.

I know I can’t replicate the conditions of Twilight Covening.  It’s a specialized environment, and things are possible there that are not in more mundane spaces.  But now I know that integration can happen.  That I can take two, or three, or maybe all, of my faces and have them come together fluidly.  It takes greater honesty.  It takes greater attention.  And it will continue to take a lot of work.

So my intention for my winter Work is integration.  I know that I can integrate my yoga practice with my spirituality now (the Ayurvedic philosophies I’ve been taught and my own spiritual path were having a bit of a tug-of-war), and that’s where I intend to begin.  I have a yoga sadhana (a time period dedicated to a yoga practice with a particular goal) waiting for me anyway.  It’s time.

My other intention is honesty.  Some of the layers I was able to loosen a bit showed me that I’m still afraid of myself.  I’m afraid you won’t love me if I tell you the truth.  I’m afraid you’ll reject me, and that I’ll be left alone.  And I need you.  I need your love and friendship and company.  I am tribal: I need my blessed community.  But I haven’t trusted you enough.  I haven’t trusted myself enough.  And that is the other thing that must change.  It’ll be bumpy.  I hide a lot of things.  Being completely authentic is hard for me.  But I will try.  And I hope you will be patient as the layers come together.

In South Korea earlier this year, a Buddhist nun read my character, my individual nature, at a Temple Stay.  She told me I am a torch.  That it is my path to shine, and that torches do more than just illuminate–they also inspire.  And I find her words surfacing from memory again now.

I hold flickering candles.  May they come together into one light.

 

 

 

 

Sacred Space Conference

Published March 6, 2013 by ireneglasse

I’ve become a very last-minute addition to the roster at this year’s Sacred Space Conference in Laurel, MD.

“The Sacred Space Conference is a place and time of respectful sharing and thoughtful learning among the many rich and varied traditions, beliefs, paths and organizations found in the DC/Baltimore metropolitan region, the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area, and the world.  It is our hope that through this conference we will increase understanding and religious tolerance between the many traditions within the esoteric community, as well as within the public at large.”

I will be presenting yoga classes Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning at the Conference.  If you’re there, I hope to see you!  If you don’t have anything going on, passes are still available at the door.

The Light of Imbolc

Published February 1, 2013 by ireneglasse

I’ll tell you a story today.  I’ve only told a couple other people this particular one, because I feel self-conscious when I try to explain.  Some things are harder to put into words than others.

I don’t really remember how old I was when it happened.  I was little, probably under age 10.  The television was on, and a commercial began to run.  I think it was for jeans, of all things.  The part that struck me was the music.  It was a version of ‘this little light of mine,’ a rendition that began with the refrain whispered, then grew in volume and enthusiasm.  It was well done–inspiring, empowering.  And it made something click inside my head.  I started to pray.  To beg with all my will to the big, nebulous idea of God I had at the time, to make me a bearer of light.  I swore that I would do whatever I was asked, whatever was needed, if I could just carry light.  I would do anything.  I would serve that light forever.

Maybe I made that promise into air and nothingness.  Maybe I made it to my higher self.  Or maybe some One heard me, and answered.

I’m human, of course.  Flawed as we all are.  But I have tried my best to keep my word.  When I was a teenager, I wrote rituals for our little group of Pagan teens.  When I was in the military, one of my nicknames was Mother Goose.  If someone was having a meltdown in the middle of the night, I was the one that the Duty came and woke up.  As a musician, my lyrics carry messages.  Most of them are some form of ‘wake UP, the world needs you.’  I taught Paganism for years.  I’ve run festivals for the community.  I’m now in school to teach yoga.  The light, you see.  However I find it, I try to serve it.  It also lives within me.  In a very real way, the Gods kept their promise, too.  My sense of connection to the Powers is a feeling of a light glowing inside my chest.  Some of my friends see more than just the physical surface of things, and they can gauge my mood based on how brightly that light is shining.

And perhaps that’s why Imbolc is my favorite holiday of the year.  It is a celebration of light – the time when we really, truly begin to feel the return of the sun.  The very first stirrings of the coming spring can be found, and we notice that the days are a little longer than they were.  Imbolc is a time of purification.  It’s the deep breath before we sing, the tilled earth before we plant.  It’s a time to plan, to dream, to prepare.  It’s a time to cultivate our connection.  To strengthen ourselves for the warm time of the year, when our energy will be going in myriad directions, often at breakneck pace.

Imbolc is also sacred to the Goddess Brigid.  In a simple definition, she’s the goddess of Healing, Smithcraft and the Arts.  She is a source of light, particularly in the midst of darkness.  Some of her devotees keep a lamp always lit in her honor (the Sacred Flame of St Brigid in Kildare, Ireland, is often the origination point–St Brigid and the Goddess Brigid long ago merged together in myth).  In a very real way, Brigid *is* the light.  In years past, I ran a Pagan music festival called Brigid’s Faire–a burst of light, sound, art and warmth in the midst of winter.  More than any other named Goddess, I serve Brigid.

Between Yule and Imbolc, I braid my hair every day and wear a pendant with a picture of BrigidIrene on it.  The braids are an offering, an observance.  A time every morning when I remember the light within me, what it means, and what I promised in that long ago prayer.  As ever, I strive to serve the light.  I keep the oath I swore.

I wish you joy and light this Imbolc.  I wish you love and purification.  I wish you peace and blessings.

And if all goes according to plan, I’ll be giving you a gift fashioned of light and life tomorrow.

Blessed Imbolc, my friends.

Perfect Expression

Published December 13, 2012 by ireneglasse

For Pagans, the darker side of the year is a time for internal work–for choosing a battle, digging in, and working your way through.  The combination of myth cycles, sunlight and weather that keeps us indoors serves as grease for the wheels, if you let it.  This year, I’m working on Perfectionism.  I have an ideal inside my head of what my life is supposed to be like–what I should look like, how I should act, what I should do.  And when I fall short of that ideal, I wrestle with a lot of guilt.  The guilt feeds into my anxiety disorder.  I redouble my efforts, this time stressed and anxious, and ultimately manage to screw myself up.  I end up getting sick, overextended, neurotic…it’s an ugly cycle.  And it goes on almost constantly.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to overcome my Perfectionism.  I’ve been working on self-acceptance, on the idea of ‘enough.’  That I do enough, have enough, am enough.  This evening I’m doing a releasing ritual with my wonderful working partner to further this cause.  I’ll be creating a new mala for use in prayer and yoga practice.

Yoga practice.  So many ideas come together here.  The one that really crystallized for me this past week was the idea of Perfect Expression.  A phrase often uttered by instructors at my studio is ‘Find your perfect expression.’  By that, they mean to listen to your body when you’re working on a pose.  To find out where you, personally, need to physically be, what you need to cultivate.  Not to worry about reaching the peak of that pose–Perfect Execution–but what is exactly right for your body in that moment.

For example, I have tight hamstrings.  I’m extremely strong, but not very flexible.  It seems to run in the family–we have very dense muscles and tissues that keep mobility a little pinned down.  So, for me, the Perfect Expression of Downward Facing Dog means my heels don’t touch the floor.  Yet I still get as much out of that pose as someone whose heels do touch–i.e. a great hamstring stretch/shoulder opener/lower back expansion.  That slight difference in execution becomes meaningless since the beauty and benefit to the body are equal.  Even if, 20 years from now, my heels still don’t touch in Down-dog, it will still be the Perfect Expression of the pose for me.

Perhaps there is a Perfect Expression of the Self as well.  We all have an ideal we strive for, whether given to us by our family, the media, our culture as a whole or some combination of those sources.  That ideal is Perfect Execution–beauty, health, wealth, a stable, loving relationship, enough time to help those in need, clean house, nice cars, etc, etc.  A perfectly executed life.  Yet the same way all our bodies are different, our minds and lives are different, too.  We have tight hamstrings, bad shoulders, trick wrists.  We accumulate little dings and dents along the way and must modify that Perfect Execution to fit the needs and limits of our unique, individual self.

And perhaps that modification is Perfect.  Perfect for us in that moment.  Perfect for our reality.  Perfect for the soul, the personality, the life we lead.  Perfectly expressed for who we are.  That expression doesn’t look like the ‘peak pose’ of the life we imagine–it doesn’t look like the ideal inside our head.  But the resemblance is unmistakable.  Although the images aren’t identical, we still cultivate the root of that ideal.  We reach toward it.  And that Perfect Expression is exactly where we need to be.

So I haven’t saved the world yet.  I haven’t completely balanced house-work-music-health-life.  I haven’t figured out the Mysteries of the Universe.

And it’s Perfect.  The things I think of as flaws, as failings, are just modifications.  I have tight hamstrings.  I have an anxiety disorder.  I modify Downward Facing Dog.  I modify my life.  And the beauty and benefit of those modifications are the same within me as Perfect Execution would be.  I do not feel guilt in my yoga practice.  I don’t beat myself up for not being able to flawlessly move through Standing Twisting Triangle.  Instead, I find that place within me that benefits most from the energy of that pose and I breathe into it.

Perfect Expression.

As in yoga, so in life.  As within, so without.  As above, so below.

A blessed New Moon to you, and to your Perfect Expression.

 

Strong, slow, deliberate

Published June 6, 2012 by ireneglasse

Everyone has their battles.  I’m convinced that it’s impossible to make it to adulthood (and in some cases, just past 10) without a serious issue or two.  Or four.

I have an anxiety disorder.  It’s diagnosed, I’ve been through counseling for it.  As it was explained to me, one can have a predisposition for greater or lesser amounts of anxiety.  Think of it like a fight or flight response–the response is stronger in some people than in others.  In order to move from ‘responsive’ to ‘disorder,’ all that’s required is a little trauma.  Mine hit right around age 13 (since being a teenager isn’t hard enough on its own) and presto!  The shifter jumps a couple gears and off we go.

I’m pretty fortunate.  My anxiety issues are not so severe that they necessitate medication.  That said, they do need to be managed.  And it is in the management of our issues that I think people, myself included, often fall short.  It’s not enough to take the pill, you see.  Or to have gone through therapy of some sort once.  Although we can take the edges off of our issues, they remain with us, and can regrow their ridges if ignored for too long.

June is always a rocky month for me.  Many of the clubs I juggle in my life are in the air, and on fire, during June.  Cassandra Syndrome‘s summer tour season is underway.  Although we’ve pared back on gigs this year to one a month, there’s still a lot that happens behind the scenes to make those gigs happen.  Especially since we’ve just changed lineup.  My garden is also picking up speed–there’s more maintenance necessary, new rounds of crops to put into the ground, pest management has begun.  And finally the big one–the Shenandoah Midsummer Festival.  I co-chair the festival.  I’m blessed to have a team of amazing folks that helps make Midsummer happen, but it’s still a LOT of work.  This year in particular is a bit anxiety-inducing since we’re at a new location.  The location is fabulous, but since we haven’t run the festival there before, I don’t know what, if any, problems will arise.  I’m trying to plan for things I can only theorize about.

This along with all my other duties and activities.

I could feel the stress building over the last couple weeks.  I found myself, several times, quite literally turning in a circle while trying to figure out how to do two different things at once.  The memory problems that I associate with increased anxiety were showing up, plus the awful sinking feeling that underlies the condition.  The everything is going to go wrong, and I will be left alone forever feeling.

Here’s the good news.  I noticed the ramping up.  I noticed the issues coming to the fore.  And that increase in stress was what I carried with me into the Labyrinth during Monday night’s walk.

How do we slow down when the world speeds up around us?

One, we limit how much world is allowed into our minds.  I have a hard time not working if I’m attached to the internet.  So now, at 9 pm, an alarm goes off on my phone and I end all use of electronic media.  Reading is fine.  Writing (with a pen) is fine.  Meditation is fine.  Gmail is not.

Two, we focus on making our goals reasonable.  I know for a fact that it is impossible to get everything on my to-do list knocked out today.  I also know from reading study after study that multitasking is not as effective as many of us would like to believe.  So, I sat down, figured out what actually *needs* to happen, and focused on that.  If my living room doesn’t get cleaned today, the world will not end.

Three, we specifically make time for fun–for relaxation.  For letting ourselves off the hook for an hour or two.  If there is never a release in the pressure, we slowly grind down underneath it.

I figured out the fourth option last night as I was journaling.  I was mulling over stress and realized that there’s an area in my life where I’m already good at managing it.  Yoga.  My muscles can be screaming, my heart pounding, sweat pouring, yet in a yoga practice I am centered in myself, completely calm, and breathing fully and smoothly.  Three words came to mind about how I approach my practice.

Strong.  Slow.  Deliberate.

I focus a lot on alignment, on smooth transitions between poses.  On making my physical practice as much like the flowing of water as possible.  This idea of fluidity can be turned to my own life–to my to-do list, to the chittering monkey voice inside my head urging me to more and more faster and faster.

I choose my next task with Strength.  I will focus on it, turn all my attention to it, until it is completed.  I will meet it with all my energy, rather than attempting to divide my reserves.

I move Slowly.  Rather than the chaotic tumble of a mountain stream, I move as with the swell of the ocean.  I choose to take the time to ensure tasks are done correctly, thoroughly, skillfully.

I work Deliberately.  I consciously choose my actions.  I reflect on situations and obstacles and think them through rather than falling into mindless reaction.  When I do identify a path to pursue, I move forward in full awareness.  I stay mindful of the present moment.

Strong.  Slow.  Deliberate.  And, as always, remember to Breathe.