Archive for Qigong

March Classes; New Gentle Ballet at Dorot for Seniors; Yoga and Qigong Workshops

I hope this email finds you well on this snowy and rainy Sunday evening. Please commute safely tomorrow! 

I am delighted to be returning to the Dorot Center on the Upper West Side to teach a special series – “Gentle Ballet for 60+”.  The full description of this new weekly class (Tuesdays 10-11 am) is below.

Ballet had been an integral part of my life since I was a child. I started taking classes and performing in recitals as a young child in New Jersey, and then auditioned for and was accepted into George Balanchine’s “School of American Ballet” at Lincoln Center.  Performing with the New York City Ballet as a young dancer in classics, such as The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Harlequinade and others was a gift that I will always cherish.  I so appreciate that I was able to dance at The New York State Theater with ballet superstars Suzanne Farrell, Baryshnikov, Helgi Tomasson, Jacques D’Amboise, Patricia McBride, Merrill Ashley (to name a few) as they were coached by Balanchine. It truly was the heyday of ballet in NYC, if not the world, and I soaked it all in. After high school, I joined the Pennsylvania Ballet Company in Philadelphia, dancing professionally for several years.

Growing up, ballet was my deepest passion.  I never imagined my beloved career would be cut short. But various factors (injury, emotional burnout, immaturity) led me to leave the dance world for a decade to pursue academics and a law degree instead. I thought the ballet for me was just a memory. But while studying for the bar exams, I went back to the other “barre” as well and returned to ballet classes. It was like coming home.  Since then, I never stopped dancing; even while practicing law, I would hop on the express train and take class during lunch or after work. When I left the practice of law and became a teacher of yoga, pilates and Qigong, it was only natural that the appeal of ballet teacher trainings would follow, and I subsequently trained with ballet master Finis Jhung (my ballet mentor to this day) and American Ballet Theater’s school. 

While now teaching ballet to children, adults and seniors, I love to bring joy of movement combined with technical skills – modified to students depending on age and ability. One is never too old to start dance classes, as long as the class allows for the student to respect the body’s limitations and work within safe ranges of motion, as are my guiding principles. Ballet is a beautiful art form that also has practical benefits for students: increase of strength and flexibility; improvement of balance and coordination; focus, attention and memory can improve. Plus, it feels wonderful to move to classical movement.  It truly uplifts the spirit!           

Dorot Center – photo by Shannon O’Connor

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

“GENTLE BALLET” AT DOROT FOR SENIORS (60+):

Stretch and strengthen like a ballet dancer, and learn ballet barre technique in a modified gentle ballet class that uses a chair for support.

We start with seated warmups for legs and arms, and gentle core strengthening.  Once the body is warmed up, we will stand holding the chair for the traditional ballet barre exercises.  Ballet class has been shown to improve coordination, balance, flexibility and muscular strength – all while moving to beautiful classical music!

Please rsvp to Shannon O’Connor before class and note the standing movements are best wearing ballet slippers, socks with traction, or flexible sneakers (i.e., allowing the feet to flex and point).  

Melissa Elstein at the barre.

 photo by Stephen Von Der Launitz

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“TAI CHI EASY & CHAIR YOGA”:

Tai Chi Easy™ and Chair Yoga continues at the beautiful Integral Yoga Institute.  This fusion class supports the immune system with gentle movement, energy work, and self-care techniques. Our practice combines all the above, as we warm up, strengthen and stretch the body with Chair Yoga exercises, standing balancing poses (optional use of the chair for support), Tai Chi Easy™ weight shifting and walking for balance and coordination, and Qigong energy cultivation.  Class ends with an extended yoga nidra deep relaxation and guided meditation to refresh the body and spirit. This class, formerly called “Chair Chi & Prana“, is accessible to all ages and levels.  Please wear or bring traction socks (like pilates or Barre socks).  

February 2019 Classes

On this balmy Superbowl Sunday, it feels like Spring may be right around the corner, and I certainly hope so!  This week’s Arctic Blast left my body feeling stiff and tense, as I found myself bracing against the chilly winds on my daily walking commutes. During the Winter months, it is even more important to take time for stretching and relaxation, as our muscles reflexively contract in the cold and it is mentally exhausting dealing with such inhospitable conditions.  This month, I am teaching numerous styles of movement modalities all of which will assist with such gentle stretching with a meditative focus.  See the side bar for the February dates and below for descriptions of Adult Beginner Ballet; Chair Yoga & Tai Chi Easy™; Gentle Hatha Yoga; and a special Gentle Yoga & Qigong for Heart Opening on Valentine’s Day.  Hope to see you in class!  As always, email me any questions you may have about these classes.  

Hudson River Sunset 2/3/19 by Melissa Elstein

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CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Special Valentine’s Day Class:

On this 2019 Valentine’s Day, you are invited to a special Heart-focused Yoga & Qigong class 5:15 – 6:45 pm at Integral Yoga Institute. Qigong and yoga are heart opening practices, opening to our own hearts as well as to others. Yoga and Qigong cultivate acceptance and non-harming (Ahimsa) towards oneself and others. In this special class, welcome to everybody (all genders, singles/ couples), we will collectively and individually create more openness of body and spirit as we practice asana and energy work with a gentle heart-centered intention. 
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Chair Yoga. Qigong & Tai Chi Walking:

This fusion class combines gentle movement, energy work, and self-care techniques. Our practice will include all of the above, as we warm up, strengthen and stretch the body with Chair Yoga exercises, standing balancing poses (optional use of the chair for support), Tai Chi Easy™ weight shifting and walking for balance and coordination, and Qigong energy cultivation.  Class ends with an extended yoga nidra deep relaxation and guided meditation to refresh the body and spirit. This class, formerly called “Chair Chi & Prana“, is accessible to all ages and levels.  Please wear or bring traction socks (like pilates or Barre socks).  

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ADULT BEGINNER BALLET LEVEL 1:

This class is open to all, whether you have ballet experience and want to review the basics or you are a brand-new beginner.  Non-dancers will not be intimidated as the instructions are clear and the class moves at a slow pace. You will begin standing at a portable barre placed in front of the mirror. Most exercises are done with both hands on the barre and proceed slowly and methodically, and the second time you will practice away from the barre so you develop balance and strength. In Ballet Level 1, students learn the basics of correct dance posture, positioning, and balancing on one leg. Your muscles will develop properly so you gain strength and control of your movements. The centerwork includes stretching on the floor, as well as basic dance movements which travel across the floor.  Ballet helps with increasing coordination, balance and memory, and movements are coordinated with beautiful classical music.

Melissa Elstein at the barre.

photo by Stephen Von Der Launitz

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Gentle Hatha Yoga:

Restore your balance in this gentle Hatha yoga class that focuses on proper alignment and inner awareness during each yoga posture, deepening the meditative aspect of the yoga practice. This class is designed as a moving meditation that helps us slow down our thoughts so we can connect to our true essence – our higher self.  We begin with the Integral Yoga chants and eye exercises, before exploring the yoga asanas allowing for modifications for each practitioner if appropriate.  Class includes a guided yoga nidra (deep relaxation technique) and savasana (relaxation pose) leaving us feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  We conclude with breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation, as well as the Integral Yoga peace chants – creating a well-rounded and thorough yoga practice suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners.

Happy 2019! Resolutions and my Tai Chi Easy/Chair Yoga Returns

Wishing you a magical and wondrous New Year filled with happiness, harmony, and abundance!

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Often as we think about our plans or resolutions for a new year, we have been conditioned by society to create unrealistic or onerous resolutions, such as to lose 15 pounds in a month or eliminate sugar or “bad” carbs completely.  Perhaps there are some who will be able to succeed in their quest and maintain such a rigid restriction or goal for the long term.  But most such resolutions get broken fairly quickly, creating more disappointment and negative self-talk for the goal seeker.  However, if we can flip the resolutions so that they are not about removing something desirable from our lives (let’s be honest, sugar tastes delicious!), but instead is about adding things (such as, I will eat more fresh fruit and veggies), we won’t feel the same level of deprivation.  By focusing on the positive side of a new dietary lifestyle (note, I did not use the word “diet”), we will not feel as if we are on punishing ourselves – as we eliminate the things have been used to eating or craving.  Instead, it is more likely that if we add more nutrients and fiber from fresh fruit, berries and veggies, for example, we probably won’t be craving as much sugar or unhealthy carbs. Psychologically, we are adding to our lives – not detracting –  which is very different than a resolution that focuses on depriving ourselves.  As soon as we vow to not have something anymore, ironically it becomes all that we seek.

I used the sugar issue as an example, but there are so many more examples of how we can create positive goals instead of punitive ones.  Let’s say we want to spend less time on our electronic devices, social media, tv, etc. If that is our resolution, we are likely to go through withdrawal, experience FOMO (fear of missing out, especially in these politically charged times). But instead, what if our goal was to add activities such as going to more museums, plays, concerts, yoga and dance classes, walks in the park?  We reward ourselves with these positive lifestyle changes and as a secondary consequence, it is likely our screen time will diminish without any feelings of deprivation or loss.  So in this 2019th year, let’s ask ourselves what we would like to add into our lives that makes us feel inspired, excited, healthy, and optimistic!  What are the things we experience that uplift us and what do we find energetically draining?  Take some time to create two lists noting this, and after a week or so of adding to the lists, reflect upon the answers. Can we find a way to nourish ourselves by increasing the things we now explicitly see uplift us?  Now, that’s a New Year’s resolution I can make and stick with! 
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     WINTER TAI CHI EASY & CHAIR YOGA CLASSES:

I hope to see you this Monday night at our first Tai Chi Easy™ and Chair Yoga class of the Winter semester at Integral Yoga Institute.  The chilly Winter season is a time when it is tempting to hibernate in one’s abode, but is important to continue to support the immune system with gentle movement, energy work, and self-care techniques. Our practice will include all of the above, as we warm up, strengthen and stretch the body with Chair Yoga exercises, standing balancing poses (optional use of the chair for support), Tai Chi Easy™ weight shifting and walking for balance and coordination, and Qigong energy cultivation.  Class ends with an extended yoga nidra deep relaxation and guided meditation to refresh the body and spirit. This class, formerly called “Chair Chi & Prana“, is accessible to all ages and levels.  Please wear or bring traction socks (like pilates or Barre socks).  

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Additionally this Friday morning, we continue my Fall/Winter Tai Chi Easy™  telephone course with the “University Without Walls” Dorot for Seniors program.  I love teaching this course as it brings the benefits of seated qigongmeditation, and breathwork to those who cannot attend in-person classes. This is now our fifth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  Written materials are provided in advance of the class (included my teacher’s book “The Healer Within” by Dr. Roger Jahnke), and each session is devoted to reading and discussing the materials, alternating with experiential movement and guided meditations.  Please call Dorot to sign up, and for a catalog.  No prior experience is necessary!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  If you know someone who can benefit from at home learning, please share this wonderful resource! http:// http://www.dorotusa.org/site/DocServer/UWW_Spring_Summer_2018_Catalog.pdf

Fall 2018 Schedule: Fall Prevention Workshop; Tai Chi Easy and Chair Yoga; Telephone Classes

Hi friends and family,

Wishing to those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, a blessed holiday and all the very best for the New Year – 5779!   Here is a cute song and dance video a friend sent me, and I thought it would bring a smile to you as well!  http://www.aish.com/h/hh/video/Get-Clarity-Aishcoms-Rosh-Hashanah-Music-Video.html

See below for my Fall classes and also for information on my cousin Michelle’s Fall yoga retreat for women in Vermont!  Sounds heavenly!

Falls Prevention Talk and Practice with Tai Chi Easy™ 

Friday, September 21:  1:00 – 2:30 pm

With Melissa Elstein, Tai Chi Easy™ Facilitator & 
Shannon O’Connor, DOROT Staff

As part of Falls Prevention Week at Dorot, this workshop is a part-lecture, part-exercise class.  Shannon will introduce tips to prevent falls and become more mindful when moving throughout your home or the community. Melissa will teach Tai Chi Easy™, a simplified yet practical version of Tai Chi created by Roger Jahnke, O.M.D.  Learn weight shifting exercises (and starting with Melissa’s chair exercise warmups), to gain confidence and leg strength.  This Tai Chi Easy™ class will include standing while holding the chair for support and weight shifting, but not tai chi walking.
Focus in motion with us!

Rsvp to Shannon O’Connor required for attendance to this Workshop:
(917) 441-3743 or soconnor@dorotusa.org
Main Tel:   (212) 769-2850
www.dorotusa.org

Check out DOROT’s Wellness Program!

Seated Tai Chi Easy TM Teleclass:
Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls”

This telephone class brings the benefits of seated qigong, meditation, and breathwork to those who cannot attend in-person classes. This is now our fifth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  Written materials are provided in advance of the class, and each session is devoted to reading and discussing the materials, alternating with experiential movement and guided meditations.  This class meets Fridays 10 – 11 am November 2 – January 18.  Please call Dorot to sign up, or for a catalog.  No prior experience is necessary!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  Please help spread the word about this wonderful resource!  http://www.dorotusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=seniors_programs_on_phone_D#.W5fW6ehKiUk

Check out DOROT’s Wellness Program!

www.dorotusa.org
(212) 769-2850

“Chair Chi & Prana” Class at IYI NYC

I hope you are having a wonderful Summer!  This Monday night is our final “Chair Chi & Prana” of the season, and I hope to see you there at the beautiful and peaceful Integral Yoga Institute.  After July 16, there will be a short break for August, and I will be looking forward to resuming this class in the Fall. (When the Fall dates are confirmed, I will email you as well.)  See below for more details on this Monday’s class; you may sign up at http://www.iyiny.org or simply sign up as a walk-in.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and hopefully I will see you tomorrow!

Class Descriptions:  

Chair Chi and Prana is hosted by the beautiful yoga center – Integral Yoga. This fusion class increases our vitality, and improves balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance our life force energy (chi or prana), and Tai Chi walking increases balance and helps with fall prevention.  Additionally, these practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, increase immune support, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome! No prior experience is necessary.

July’s Chair Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi Classes/Trainings and Finding Balance at Summer Solstice Times Square Yoga

Hi friends and family,

Hope you are keeping your cool and comfort in the midst of this Northeast heat wave!  Please stay hydrated!

Speaking of heat, once again I attended the uniquely NYC “Summer Solstice Yoga” in Times Square.  This year, over 12,000 participants attended yoga classes throughout the day as Times Square was shut down to vehicles, and turned into one large outdoor yoga studio. Attendees were generously given yoga mats by Aerie and the Times Square Alliance, and we literally placed our mats in the center of the city (or the world, depending on your NY-centric perspective!).  Participants braved the high temperature, curious onlookers, photographers, and different styles of yoga to join with New Yorkers of all ages, sizes, colors, and backgrounds to create a beautiful mosaic of humanity.

Times Square Solstice Yoga is always one of my favorite events of the year as I find it uplifting being with so many others practicing yoga in such a large communal way. Even in the midst of chaos and busy urban activity, the practice of yoga prepares us to go inward no matter the external environment.  What better way to test that precept during a packed mid-day yoga class in Times Square! If we can literally balance and focus in dancer pose and other challenging asanas in the middle of 42nd Street, we know that with practice and intent, we can stay steady outside of yoga class no matter the circumstances. During these chaotic and anxiety-provoking times.our daily connection to that deep inner core within each one of us is so necessary for maintaining balance and finding inner peace.  Yoga, meditation, qigong, tai chi, dance, nature walks, creating art, gardening, shamanic journeying, writing, playing music, jogging are some ways during which we can go deeply inward. What do you find works best for you in this moment? Has that changed throughout your life, or has it remained a consistent path?  Enjoy the process and the journey!

This month, my yoga-qigong-tai chi fusion class (“Chair Chi & Prana“) will be held on July 16th at the beautiful Integral Yoga in the heart of the West Village. Much of the qigong and simplified tai chi that I incorporate into my yoga classes I learned from my first tai chi teacher – Dr. Roger Jahnkehttp://www.feeltheqi.com/Dr_Jahnke/   If you would like to meet him in person, there will be a free intro evening at NYC’s Open Center on Thursday, July 5thhttps://www.opencenter.org/awakening-healer-within  I hope you can attend that event this holiday week!

Dr. Jahnke created  “Tai Chi Easy”TM – the system of tai chi, qigong, self-massage that I studied at the Omega Institute in 2007.  http://www.healerwithinfoundation.org/taichieasy   It was a fantastic training, and to this day, it is the style that I primarily teach and practice. It is very accessible to all ages and levels of experience, and as you can see from our facilitator graduation photo, we had a fun and diverse group.

In July, Dr. Jahnke will be at The Open Center in NYC, and in August at Kripalu in the Berkshires.  Please go to his website to see the exact dates and for more information:
http://instituteofintegralqigongandtaichi.org/calendar/  I highly recommend doing one or more of his trainings!

Class Descriptions:

Chair Chi and Prana is hosted by the beautiful yoga center – Integral Yoga. This fusion class increases our vitality, and improves balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance our life force energy (chi or prana), and Tai Chi walking increases balance and helps with fall prevention.  Additionally, these practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, increase immune support, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome! No prior experience is necessary.

June 2018 Classes; Tai Chi Easy Trainings with Dr. Jahnke

Dear friends and family,

I hope you are having a lovely June!  This month, in addition to my monthly Integral Yoga “Chair Chi & Prana” workshop, I am back teaching at Dorot for Seniors and Bloomingdale Aging in Place (“BAIP”), and look forward to reconnecting with my students there.

Many of you inquire about the qigong and simplified tai chi that I incorporate into my yoga classes, and I always recommend my first teacher – Dr. Roger Jahnke. http://www.feeltheqi.com/Dr_Jahnke/  He directs the Health Action Clinic in Santa Barbara, CA and is the founder and creator of “Tai Chi Easy” – Dr. Jahnke’s system of tai chi, qigong, self-massage that I studied at Omega in 2007.  http://www.healerwithinfoundation.org/taichieasy and  It was a great training, and to this day, it is the style that I primarily teach and practice. It is very accessible to all ages and levels of experience, and as you can see from our facilitator graduation photo, we had a fun and diverse group.

Every Summer, Dr. Jahnke returns to the Northeast to lead more trainings and this June – August, he will be at Omega in Rhinebeck, The Open Center in NYC, and Kripalu in the Berkshires.  Please go to his website to see the exact dates and for more information:
http://instituteofintegralqigongandtaichi.org/calendar/   In fact, there will be a free intro evening at the Open Center on July 5th: https://www.opencenter.org/awakening-healer-within  I highly recommend doing one or more of his trainings!

February Classes; Telephone Qigong & Meditation; Weight Training for 50 and Older; Chair Chi & Prana

Happy February!

Berkshires Fireplace – Melissa Elstein

This short Winter month brings us Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, and Black History Month.  It is a month when we tend to long for Spring to arrive, but grudgingly know we still have a couple more months of Winter.  So for those of us in the North East, how do we brighten our days and motivate when we are still dealing with snow and ice storms, and frigid temperatures?  I find myself wanting to hide under a warm blanket with a good book, and hibernate until the Spring thaw.  But, given I am not a bear, hibernation is not an option!

Taconic Trees by Melissa Elstein

I find that signing up for group classes keeps me committed to my workouts and my spiritual practices, and the group solidarity helps boost my mood as well (you all can tell by now, I am not a Winter person!).  Whether I am teaching a group class or taking one, the group interaction and solidarity is extremely motivating.  One of the classes I recently signed up for is a fun conditioning circuit class geared towards those of us 50 years of age and up,  taught at Silver Stars Fitness (fitness specialists for baby boomers and beyond).  http://www.silverstarsfit.com  I highly recommend this specialized fitness studio; see below for more details on their classes and training!

Another class I find personally uplifting due to the positive group interaction is the telephone class I offer for the Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls”:  Seated Qigong, Tai Chi Easy Arms, & Guided Meditation.   Each week we discuss and read tai chi articles and my teacher Roger Jahnke’s qigong books. The intellectual understanding of this ancient philosophy is enhanced by guided gentle movement, guided meditations, and relaxation exercises.  This is now our fifth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  In fact, I have found that focusing on the phone actually enhances our powers of concentration as we also must visualize what we are hearing described.  The next semester starts this Friday, Feb. 9, so please call Dorot to sign up, or to receive a catalog: (877) 819-9147.  No prior experience is necessary, and since this class continues through May 2018 you can sign up at any time (though I do recommend starting sooner rather than later)!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  Please help spread the word about this wonderful resource!  http:// http://www.dorotusa.org/site/DocServer/UWW_Spring_Summer_2018_Catalog.pdf

Last year, I organized at home personal training for my father with a trainer from Silver Stars Fitness so that he could maintain and even improve his strength while he was going through various health challenges.  He really enjoyed his workouts with Mary who visited him in his apartment, as he could not commute to the Silver Stars Studio.  Mary brought the necessary equipment (like bands and other resistance tools), and because she has specialized training working with seniors, was able to safely teach him strengthening exercises, stretches, and balancing skills.  My father raved about Mary, and her visits were one of the highlights of his week!

In addition to Silver Stars’ roster of specialized trainers who will do at home training, they also offer small group classes and individual personal training in their beautiful gym located at 7th Avenue and 54-55th Streets.  Classes are limited to a maximum of 6 students, so there is much individual attention to form and safety.  I signed up for a weekly “30-Minute Circuit” class, which is a lot of fun and a well-rounded workout using weights, bands, balls, and balance boards, and including movement across the floor.  This class is offered five times per week, and they also offer a very practical “Balance & Fall Prevention” class.  If this sounds interesting to you, you can contact owner Jason Greenspan to schedule a consultation or attend their next Open House:  (646) 370-3843 or info@silverstarsfit,com  I believe that functional cross training (doing multiple modalities of fitness) is very important, especially as we get older, and that yoga or dance alone is not sufficient for full body conditioning.  As that saying goes, variety is the spice of life!


Working out at Silver Stars Fitness

Speaking of variety of movement, our next Chair Chi and Prana class will be held on a Tuesday this month – Feb. 27.  This class too has a great group energy.  The beautiful and historic yoga ashram Integral Yoga Institute has been hosting this class for many years, and it is accessible to both newcomers as well as experienced students.  This unique class is designed to increase our vitality, and improve balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance one’s life force energy, and Tai Chi walking increases balance.  These practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome!

January 2018 Qigong & Yoga Classes; Simplification for the New Year

Happy 2018 to you all.  Let’s hope that the New Year is filled with more positivity and peace than the preceding year, and that we all find the tools uniquely helpful for each one of us to best navigate these complicated times with ease, clarity, and a lightness of spirit.


Mexico Sunset 2018 by Melissa Elstein

My personal mantra for the new year is to “simplify” – to streamline and declutter my internal and external spaces.  With our 24/7 information age, social media threads to infinity, email demands, online petitions, etc., it just seems as if we cannot keep up with the onslaught of news, requests to act, donate, join, resist, and other pulls for our attention.  If you are a caring person, it can feel overwhelming as there are so many worthy causes and too little time.  The problems of the vast world can seem so much closer and more personal these days as we view them in our handheld gadgets at all possible moments.  Unlike the days of my childhood, the tv does not turn to gray static once the late news has ended.  There is no end to the news. Last year, many of us sought more and more information to find understanding of what has been unfathomable.  We endlessly clicked, to assuage our anxiety with the false belief that the more we knew, the better we would feel.  Or maybe that was just me.  In any event, I found that game plan does not work so well.  The news keeps coming, whether I tune in or not – and the results are still beyond my control.  So to simplify my life this year, without hiding my head in the sand (though at times, that would seem heavenly) will be a learning process and a goal.  Creating healthy boundaries of what and how much we take in from our external environment, allows more time and space to nurture our own personal inner environment – and that is just as real and important as any headline or breaking news story.  As with so many spiritual lessons, it’s all about finding balance.

And speaking of balance, our next Chair Chi and Prana class will be held this Monday night, January 22 at Integral Yoga.  This unique fusion class helps increase our vitality, and improve balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance one’s life force energy, and Tai Chi walking increases balance.  These practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome!

Here is a wonderful short article written by a psychiatrist on how tai chi class has benefited her:  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/denise-nagel-md/health-benefits-of-tai-ch_b_7641712.html

Additionally, I am so pleased to be again teaching a telephone class for the Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls” that brings the benefits of seated qigong, meditation, and breathwork to those who cannot attend in-person classes. This is now our fifth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  Written materials are provided in advance of the class, and each session is devoted to reading and discussing the materials, alternating with experiential movement and guided meditations.  We will continue with this course throughout 2018, so please call Dorot to sign up, or for a catalog.  No prior experience is necessary!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  Please help spread the word about this wonderful resource! http:// http://www.dorotusa.org/site/DocServer/UWW_Spring_Summer_2018_Catalog.pdf

Dec. 2017; Super Gemini Moon; Yoga Classes; Dorot’s University Without Walls Teleclass; Holiday Gift Wrapping for Community Work & Street Tree Care

Wishing you a peaceful and joyous holiday season!

As I write to you on this Sunday evening, I am aware that tonight brings us a special Super Full Moon in Gemini, and the beginning of a mercury retrograde period lasting until December 22, which is also just after the Winter Solstice. I was curious about any spiritual significance to these lunar events, and a quick internet search led me to this beautiful website:
http://foreverconscious.com/category/astrology .  According to this site’s author, Mercury retrograde is the opportune time for reflecting on the past year, journaling, and intuiting about the New Year, without yet making definitive plans or starting something new.  “December’s retrograde is really about releasing and shedding all the mental blocks and thought patterns from 2017 so you can enter 2018 with a fresh perspective and a new outlook.”  The author describes the Gemini Super Full Moon as signifying our connection with truth, including the truth of who we are: “… here for a journey of learning how to love yourself more, love the planet more and love one another more.”

Recently, I came across this postcard and placed it by my computer as I found it very beautiful and its’ affirmations very powerful.  On this Super Full Moon, I share it with you as well and hope you will be equally inspired:

Regarding my yoga classes this month, I am subbing at UWS Yoga on Dec,. 28th, happily returning to that lovely yoga center after a few months off while on sabbatical!  Also, at Integral Yoga, our next Chair Chi and Prana™ class will be held Saturday afternoon December 9 at 3:30-5 pm. This is our first weekend afternoon class for this fusion class, and I am looking forward to teaching during this new time slot! In 2018, we return to evening classes.  This unique class will help increase our vitality, and improve balance and coordination by combining Chair Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi Easy™ walking. Seated and standing Yoga poses strengthen and stretch the body, gentle and flowing Qigong movements enhance one’s life force energy, and Tai Chi walking increases balance.  These practices are a moving meditation that calm the nervous system, focus the mind, and are accessible to all bodies and ages.  We end class with a long savasana and yoga nidra (deep relaxation) to fully relax and absorb the benefits of our practices.  All levels are welcome!

Additionally, I am so pleased to be again teaching a telephone class for the Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls” that brings the benefits of seated qigong, meditation, and breathwork to those who cannot attend in-person classes. This is now our fourth semester of our teleclass, and I have found that distance is no obstacle to having a profound group and individual experience.  Written materials are provided in advance of the class, and each session is devoted to reading and discussing the materials, alternating with experiential movement and guided meditations.  We will continue with this course throughout 2018, so please call Dorot to sign up, or for a catalog.  No prior experience is necessary!  In general, Dorot’s University Without Walls is a wonderful resource for telephone learning and community-building, and their courses cover a myriad of topics.  Please help spread the word about this wonderful resource!  http://www.dorotusa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=seniors_programs_on_phone_D

Also, this holiday season, as in past years, I am volunteer gift-wrapping at our local independent book and gift store – “Book Culture” on Columbus Avenue at 81st street – to raise funds for my non-profit community organization (the West 80s Neighborhood Association – http://www.west80s.org).  We organize street tree care volunteer work, neighborhood beautification, rat eradication outreach, among other community-minded projects.  It has been lovely seeing some of your friendly faces at Book Culture already, and thank you for your support of my community work.  This year, as I am on sabbatical from my weekly group yoga classes, I have taken on more volunteer shifts at the store.  I find gift wrapping very zen, as are many arts and crafts projects (like knitting, for example). It is also enjoyable to chat with so many locals, as well as meeting tourists visiting our great city for the holidays.  I love the community that local businesses create (something not possible with online shopping), and I am very grateful to the community-minded owners of Book Culture for inviting small and local non-profits, like mine, to volunteer gift wrap for tips and to spread awareness of our charitable organizations.  In addition to books, Book Culture sells household products, scarves, hats, handbags, calendars, decorative items, Christmas tree ornaments, and more!  So I hope you will do your holiday shopping in your neighborhood and support your “mom and pop” independent stores.  I’m at Book Culture during these days:
Mondays:       December 4, 11, and 18 (10 am – 3 pm)
Tuesdays:       December 5, 12, and 19 (10 am – 3 pm)
Wednesdays:December 13 and 20 (10 am – 3 pm)
Thursdays:    December 7, 14, and 21 (3 – 8 pm)
Fridays:          December 1, 8 and 22 (3 – 8 pm)
Saturdays:     December 2 and 23 (3 – 8 pm)
Saturdays:     December 16  and 23 (10 am – 3 pm)
Sundays:        December 17 and 24 (10 am – 2 pm)
Sundays:        December  10 and 24 (2 – 6 pm)


http://www.bookculture.com/locations

Columbus Avenue Bike Lane Tree Bed Stewardship by West 80s Neighborhood Association:

http://www.loveyourstreettreeday.com