Archive for Qigong

Outdoor Qigong/Tai Chi EZ Classes on Thursday, Sept. 17

This Thursday September 17th (2 – 6pm), the UWS is celebrating PARK(ing) Day on West End Ave for 6 city blocks from 88th – 94th streets. I will be tabling on W. 88th St. for my community organizations “The West 80s Neighborhood Association” and “Love Your Street Tree Day”, and teaching mini standing and walking Tai Chi EasyTM /Qigong classes twice during the event. Please come visit me and the other presenters! 

PARK(ing) Day is a day when residents, artists and community organizers transform curbside parking spots into public spaces for community use for art and civics. The goal is to reimagine how public spaces are used.

Here’s the full line-up:
2:30-3:00 – Tai Chi EasyTM /Qigong with Good Energy Movement & Wellness (between 88th/89th Streets) taught by Melissa Elstein
3:00-3:30 – Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance – Plastic Harvest excerpts (between 91/92 Streets)
3:30-4:00 – jill sigman/thinkdance – ground | gradient | people | sky (an improvisation) (between 89/90 Streets)
4:00-4:30 – PS 166 Parent String quartet – from the Met Orchestra (between 91/92 Streets)
4:30-5:00 – Tai Chi EasyTM /Qigong with Good Energy Movement & Wellness (between 88/89 Streets) taught by Melissa Elstein
5:00-5:30 – Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance – Plastic Harvest excerpts (between 91/92 Streets)
5:00-6:00 – Bar Crawl Radio live podcast recording/broadcast (between 92/93 Streets)

As per CDC guidelines, mask-wearing will be required and social-distancing will be enforced. Also please bring hand sanitizer.
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August Yoga, Qigong Schedule; Yoga for Runners and Hikers Workshop; Rebuilding and Adapting Thoughts After the Storm

Dear Friends and Family,   

    I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones remaining safe and well, and that you weren’t negatively affected by the recent storm. Like many along the Northeast, I lost electrical power, wifi, and phone service. Fortunately, we have a decent generator and the power was restored in a day (though still no landline. Update! As I am writing this the Verizon technician popped by and it ended up being a mouse that ate our wires completely coincidental to the storm. Yuck!). During the storm, I was teaching a yoga private on Zoom, and the lights flickered for a moment but quickly went back on. I didn’t think much about the temporary power loss as my laptop was still working so we continued our private yoga class. It was only later that I realized we were in a blackout and that my generator had immediately kicked on. Nor did I realize the extent of the wind damage until the next day, when I walked outside and observed our road being blocked by two downed trees that were pulling the electrical wires down along with them. From speaking with friends and family, and watching the news, I know many people are still without electricity almost a week later, and huge trees are still blocking roads and creating dangerous conditions. 2020 is really throwing us a lot of curveballs, to say the least. So now once again, the rebuilding begins. One big lesson in this topsy-turvy year is the importance of adaptability, flexibility and creativity. 

As you know from my classes, I never teach from the perspective of achieving that perfect yoga pose. As one of my yoga mentors, Leslie Kaminoff, taught the purpose of yoga is to explore the body’s reaction to novel stimuli (such as movement and shape creation) so that it can adapt to varied circumstances, and not be stuck in rigid patterning. This applies to our breath and thoughts as well. If we can challenge ourselves in our classes with learning new choreography, movements, breath patterning, and sequencing (being mindful of creating the balance of the effort and ease) we can apply that openness to adaptation and exploration in our everyday lives. That’s where the yoga practice really counts – off the mat or chair. We all know life isn’t perfect; some years we have more challenges than others (both collectively and individually). How we adapt to these challenges, again both individually and collectively, is the key. Some scientists believe that climate change is not reversible at this point, and that the climate crisis should be approached as a climate adaptability model. We have adapted to the pandemic with new unforeseen behaviors becoming commonplace – mask wearing, foot tap greetings, spacial separating, etc. – and at some point (hopefully soon), those safety behaviors will no longer be necessary and we will adapt again to a new normal. When we don’t resist the unpleasant reality and are able to creatively adapt, socially and professionally, we can not just survive but hopefully thrive. I see that in all of you who zoom in or call in to my classes – many of you are in Covid-19 at-risk categories. Yet, you are individually persevering and positively contributing to the collective. I see that in the teachers I study with, especially my 83-year old NYC ballet teacher – Finis Jhung – who has adapted to a full-time online teaching schedule and gets his fresh air and sunshine safely by his window fire escape (all with a positive mindset and inspiring others around the world with his movement classes and life outlook). A week after the storm, the rebuilding continues, concurrent with the pandemic, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, social unrest, and more –  it can feel overwhelming but let’s remember we are experiencing and adapting to this imperfect world together.       

Photo by Melissa Elstein
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YOGA FOR RUNNERS & HIKERS – A YOGA WORKSHOP:

Whether you are a serious runner or a weekend jogger, hiking big peaks or local parks, it is important to balance the repetitive forward and contractile movements of running and hiking with proper stretching. Learn Yoga poses and stretches geared for runners and hikers to help you with overall conditioning and to prevent injury. Discover the power of savasana and Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation) to enhance your performance. You will come away prepared to use all these techniques in your next run or hike. Includes an emailed outline. Have a pen for taking notes, yoga mat, yoga strap or stretching band, blocks, pillows or yoga blanket, optional eye pillow for relaxation. 

Come with your questions as there will be plenty of discussion time between our yoga practice. Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom!    
Register in advance here: http://www.iyiny.org under Workshops.

July Schedule: Sun Salutation, Balancing Poses, Core Strength Yoga Workshops; Zoom & Phone Yoga, Qigong Classes; Spiritual Declaration of Independence; Meditation During Pandemic

I hope that this email finds you and your loved ones remaining safe and well, and enjoying the holiday weekend. This month in addition to my Zoom Yoga & Qigong classes, and telephone classes, I will be offering these Zoom workshops: “Sun Salutation – Take It Apart & Put It Back Together”; “Balancing Poses”; and “Strong to the Core – Yoga/Pilates Fusion”. See my website offerings for the full descriptions of these special yoga workshops.

A Berkshires July 4th – photo by Melissa Elstein


     It has been lovely connecting with so many of you on my Zoom and telephone yoga classes! Not only have I been reconnecting with students from my NYC in-person classes, but I am meeting new students from all over the world. This world wide web of support for one another and growing interest in the healing arts has me very inspired. I have noticed that while many aspects of our society have sadly contracted due to the pandemic (the economy, large in-person social gatherings, the live arts and sports, for example), there is also a palpable expansion that is occurring as well. Yoga and meditation classes that would attract a dozen students in person pre-pandemic, are now drawing at least 4xs those numbers. As our external lives have contracted, our internal lives may be expanding in wonderful ways. The universe is always seeking balance (as are we), and I believe the instabilities caused by the pandemic are compelling us to find that deep inner stability and peace.

     In addition to the classes at the studios and centers for whom I teach (Integral Yoga and Dorot), I have been finding wonderful meditation offerings from the Tibet House (via the Nalanda Institute http://www.nalandainstitute.org), David Nicol’s sacred activism Heal US https://www.earthrising.one/heal-us/, Panache Desai on YouTube http://www.panachedesai.com, and Cynthia Jurs’ Gaia full moon meditations https://mailchi.mp/earthtreasurevase/full-moon-global-healing-meditation . I also recommend the meditation sessions offered by these NYC studios: UWS Yoga & Wellness https://www.uwsyoga.com; NY Loves Yoga https://www.nylovesyoga.com/meditatewithus ; Community Meditation Center https://cmcnewyork.org/; and The Open Center https://www.opencenter.org/lunchtime-sound-healing-meditation/– beautiful places I had attended in person before the pandemic. Additionally, I am a big fan of the cds and downloads (itunes or mp3s) from Belleruth Naperstak’s website that has specific guided meditations on a plethora of topics, such as reducing depression and anxiety, managing specific diseases, increasing immunity, easing pain, reducing insomnia, increasing self-esteem, preparing for surgery, and so many more: https://www.healthjourneys.com  Enjoy your inner explorations!    

 
    In honor of the 4th of July holiday, I took the liberty (pun intended) to write my own version inspired by and derived from the United States Declaration of Independence: 
“I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all are created equal but unique, and endowed with certain unalienable Rights, such as Life, Liberty, Safety and Security, and the pursuit of Happiness, Love, Joy, Peace, Creativity, Wisdom, Self-knowledge, Spirituality, and Abundance.”

     What would your declaration be at this special time in his/herstory?
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April Online and Telephone Classes for Yoga, Qigong/Tai Chi Easy™; Isolating & Connecting During Surreal Times

Dear Friends and Family,  



 April 2020 Full Moon  – Melissa Elstein

It has been a month since my last email to you, and during these past four unimaginable weeks, it has been remarkable watching the world reorient to a completely different way of being; loved ones and strangers have battled the corona virus (some successfully, others unfortunately not), the economy has basically shut down with humanity sheltering in place (even the stubborn non-believers in science have come around to endorsing social isolation), mundane activities like food shopping have become the week’s most stressful endeavors, and delivery workers, store personnel, transportation employees (in addition to medical workers) have rightfully become our every-day super heroes. Daily, we learn of the numbers of those afflicted with the virus rising exponentially along with the unemployment levels, and conversely retirement savings and the stock market dropping to new lows. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the country’s “governor” with his daily fact-filled press conferences as well as his spiritual words of wisdom, even as his younger reporter brother hallucinates in his basement while recovering from the virus. We are in the midst of a once in a century pandemic – the enormity of which is hard to even truly comprehend. Yet, this is our new normal.

Amidst this planetary crisis, we have observed the amazing adaptability of humanity as social and business connections have moved online. Families are celebrating holidays over Zoom calls with little computer screen boxes substituting for the communal table. Newscasters are broadcasting from their homes, often with their young children interrupting their news report to climb on their laps, adding an adorable human element we have not seen before. With the invention of different types of videoconferencing, society has stayed connected in ways we never could have imagined a mere five weeks ago before the strict stay at home orders were implemented. Often during this time of social isolation, I have been thinking about the last global pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918, which occurred before our technology and information age. It is hard to even fathom how that generation managed their crisis without all our modern amenities that are truly keeping us connected and supported.   

Fortunately for many of us, such connectivity and support are still being provided by yoga, pilates, meditation, and dance studios as they have transitioned from in-person classes to Zoom or YouTube group sessions. It is truly impressive how quickly these independent, local businesses shifted their teaching model so that students and teachers are able to maintain their practices and hopefully keep the studios in business. In NYC, we have bemoaned the loss of small businesses even before the pandemic (due to internet shopping and high rents), but now more than ever we must support our mom and pop stores and studios. During this stay at home period, I have been both a student and a teacher participating in live Zoom classes and I have been pleasantly surprised at how lovely the group connection is, and how effective the teaching has been. To take class with my fellow NYC teachers and students, even in this new format, has brought a semblance of normalcy during these abnormal times, and for that I am very grateful. Participating in the healing practices of mindful movement modalities (such as gentle yoga, qigong, tai chi, pilates), as well as meditation and dance is even more beneficial, and necessary, during these stressful times.  
 

 

Although my in-person classes at Dorot for Seniors, Integral Yoga Institute, and the Children’s Dance Program at Steps on Broadway have been cancelled until further notice, my Dorot University of Walls telephone series starts mid-April. I have years of experience teaching seated qigong and Chair Yoga over the phone, combined with meditation and visualizations, and I find this medium works very well – especially if you already have experience with those modalities. My in-person Wednesday Chair Yoga and Tai Chi Easy™ fusion class for Integral Yoga is now a Zoom class held on Fridays noon-1pm.  See below for more details on these classes and descriptions. Please email me any questions you may have about my teaching schedule, and I would also love to hear from you with the sincere hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. 


Namaste,
Melissa Mati
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March 2020 Classes; Plastic Pollution Seminar

Dear Friends and Family,  

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Central Park 3/3/20 – Melissa Elstein

March 2020 has arrived with signs of Spring in NYC – 60 degree weather, daffodil leaves bursting through the tree bed Winter displays, birds chirping as they balance on yellow forsythia branches. I hope, even during these stressful times, that you enjoyed the end of February, which this year included the extra Leap Year day. My husband and I are back from a wonderful week in Florida, in part visiting my lovely mother-in-law who just turned 20! (Yes, she’s a Leap Year baby)! 

While in Florida, a sunny, calm day suddenly turned stormy and we watched from our window as all the hotel guests and staff raced off the beach and into the safety of the building. We were disappointed by this change in weather, as my husband and I had just been organizing for our sunset beach walk. But our disappointment was short lived, as just as quickly as the storm arrived, it quickly dissipated. Soon through the darkened skies a beautiful image slowly emerged before us – a double rainbow with the colors of the chakras. We oohed and ahhed as we watched the magical arches grow above the Atlantic Ocean and glow in the sky. The temporary storm and cancellation of our anticipated plans was worth having this awe-inspiring experience; a life lesson when we extrapolate from it. No doubt, we are living in stormy, stressful times facing both existential planetary issues as well as more local problems. But from our limited human perspective, we cannot know what wonders may be waiting for us individually and collectively beyond this present moment. There is so much beyond our control, and so many mysteries we will never solve. It reminds us to take the long view perspective, and hopefully have faith in the big picture of which we are a character but not the author. Eventually, that late afternoon, the rainbows slowly evaporated. They were gone, but the wonder remains.     

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Boca Beach 2/2020 photo by Melissa Elstein
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March Class Overview:
This month, my Integral Yoga fusion class of Chair Yoga Qigong,and Tai Chi Easy™ becomes a weekly Wednesday at noon class on their schedule, rather than a workshop. This will allow us more opportunities to experience the positive effects of qi-building, balance work, and body conditioning in the peaceful IYI yoga studios. Additionally, see my website for other fusion classes I’m teaching this month and save the dates for special April classes as well. Class descriptions are on my website.   
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Plastic Pollution Seminar:
In honor of the March 1st inauguration of New York’s historic plastic bag legislation, I am co-hosting an educational event at the Dorot Center on the global issue of plastic pollution and what we can each do locally to reduce our contribution to this environmental crisis. Although my movement classes at Dorot are for folks 60+, this event is for all ages from children to seniors. Just please rsvp in advance as space is limited. Guests will receive special goodies, and there will be a free raffle (among other items, a fellow Integral Yoga teacher friend, Sydney Santoshi, is generously donating her beautiful, reusable bags from her holistic company – “Mothering Mother”). Here’s the flyer with more details, and hope to see you Sunday, March 8!

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Thanks for your continued support of my classes!  With appreciation and gratitude….

Namaste,
Melissa Mati

Celebrating Broadway with a Free Community Outdoor Movement Class!

Sat., Sept. 21, I taught a free outdoor Tai Chi Easy™, Qigong and yoga class at UWS Streetopia’s first ever street fair. See their flyer below and their website to learn more about this new community group aiming to improve the upper west side of Manhattan and give a stronger voice to New Yorkers in local municipal decision making – https://www.streetopia.city. I also tabled there during the afternoon to spread awareness about my street tree care advocacy work with my Love Your Street Tree Day coalition – http://www.loveyourstreettreeday.com. It was a lovely community event and I was happy to participate wearing my two hats, so to speak.  

My July Classes; Qigong & Tai Chi Easy™ Trainings with Dr. Roger Jahnke

RECOMMENDING MY QIGONG TEACHER’S WORKSHOPS:

This July, my qigong teacher and Tai Chi Easy™ founder returns to NYC to teach special workshops at The Open Center. Dr. Roger Jahnke created this more simplified version of Tai Chi so that the profound benefits (balance, stress-reduction, self-healing) could be available to everyone no matter the age or condition of the students. Traditional Tai Chi requires years of study, but Dr. Jahnke’s shortened and flowing version will bring you those benefits almost immediately. I know it may sound too good to be true, but it really does work!  I teach Dr. Jahnke’s Tai Chi Easy™ in my Integral  Yoga classes and during my Dorot telephone series (a seated version). 

Here are the links to his NYC Workshops on Saturday, July 13: https://www.opencenter.org/the-healer-within/ and Sunday, July 14 https://www.opencenter.org/qigong-as-gateway-to-inner-peace – choose one day, or both! If you are interested in doing 5-day courses with Dr. Jahnke this Summer, he will be at Kripalu Yoga Center mid-August: https://kripalu.org/search/jahnke  I highly recommend studying with Dr. Jahnke – he is a true spiritual teacher who walks the tai chi walk!

Dr. Roger Jahnke and a few graduates of his programs at our awesome Reunion this year outside of Austin, TX.  

MY SUMMER CLASS SCHEDULE:

This Summer, I am happily teaching many movement classes including yoga, qigong and ballet. In addition to teaching Monday morning Gentle/ Level 1 yoga classes at UWS Yoga & Wellness, there will be two Thursday evening Gentle Yoga & Qigong classes at the beautiful Integral Yoga Institute. I will be back at Dorot on August 19 for a Chair Yoga class, and my telephone Qigong, Tai Chi Easy™ and Guided Meditation series starts again Friday, July 5 (by the way, you can start this 10-week series at any time).

Additionally, I am subbing Sunday adult ballet classes for my ballet teacher, Finis Jhung, at the Alvin Ailey Dance Extension Program. These “Adult Basic Ballet” and “Adult Beginner Ballet” classes are taught in the style of Finis Jhung, as I have completed a teacher training with him, and continue to study with him. We will be using compilations of his beautiful classical music cds, composed specifically for his classes. You can wear yoga clothes if you don’t have dance leotards and tights, but I do suggest you purchase a pair of canvas ballet slippers (at Capezios, Bloch, or elsewhere) for under $ 20. The Alvin Ailey boutique also sells our ballet barre instructional DVDs, so you can practice at home too. If you have any questions about ballet supplies, please email me!

Alvin Ailey Dance Extension 

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