Archive for Super Full Moon

In-Person Yoga Class Cancellations Due to Pandemic, Telephone Classes, and More Important Covid-19 Information and Blessings

Dear Friends and Family,  


                        March 2020 Full Moon Over Central Park – Melissa Elstein

I am sending out positivity and healthy vibes to all of you and our global community at this extremely stressful time – we thought climate change and the United States presidential election were stressful enough, and now we are in the midst of a global Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. Wow, the start of this important new decade has been one for the history books. This daunting situation demonstrates, that despite growing political movements towards identity politics and separatism, and discriminatory rhetoric from world “leaders”, we truly are all connected – physically, economically, and energetically. We have one home planet, and as we humans have evolved on it, our interconnectedness continues to become more obvious. We are all global citizens in this situation together. It is challenging for all of us to not go into constant fear and anxiety mode, especially with the 24/7 news cycle and social media. But these are the times to put into real-life practice the tools we learn in yoga, qigong, meditation, and dance – focus, mindfulness, flexibility, flow, letting go, centering, calm, and steadiness. Yes, negative emotions will understandably surface (and often), and that’s ok. At those times especially, let’s send healing energies and loving thoughts to ourselves and one another, just as we do during the Metta Mantra Loving-Kindness Meditations at the end of yoga and meditation classes. We can both stay informed and take proper precautions (see helpful links below), and continue our spiritual practices to support ourselves and one another.            

In terms of my in-person group classes, I have been informed that classes at Dorot for Seniors and the Children’s Dance Program at Steps on Broadway have been cancelled until further notice, including this Thursday’s Chair Yoga/Qigong class at Dorot. Hopefully, at some point soon in the near future that class will be rescheduled.

In the meanwhile, if you are interested trying a telephone class before my Dorot University of Walls telephone series starts in April, or my Queens Library April 8th group phone call, please email me. This can be arranged as a group conference call, a private telephone session, Facetime, or Zoom. 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. 
_______________________________________________________________________

While the virus situation continues to evolve, here are some helpful suggestions from UWS Yoga & Wellness  (http://www.uwsyoga.com) – one of the lovely yoga studios where I teach. These suggestions are helpful for all exercise environments:

“The best thing for all of us is to stay calm and clear-headed, wash our hands often and thoroughly, not touch our eyes/noses/mouths (it’s a great time to stop a nail-biting habit), and stay home if we feel sick. The Center for Infectious Diseases has a very helpful page for preventing illness that you can also print out: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
 
When you are at the studio, we ask that you: 
* Wash your hands on arrival. Use the paper towel to open up the bathroom door, then throw it out in the garbage.
* If you refill your water bottle, please make sure not to touch the spigot with your water bottle. We are cleaning the spigots regularly, but please be extra careful. 
* Should you find yourself suddenly blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, please do so into a tissue or into your elbow (but then, wash your clothing that day!). If into a tissue, please wash your hands immediately. If this is a cold coming on, considering going home. 
* Please use a tissue or paper towel any time your face is in contact with a bolster or blanket, or bring a clean towel from home to use at the studio. 
* Do not touch your nose or mouth – the virus is lung-specific. This is why people are using masks.
* Students have asked us to request that everyone be extra careful about not walking on each other’s mats or belongings. Creatively walk around each other’s stuff, please!
* Keep your immune system strong by taking care of your body with yoga and meditation, walking outdoors, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy, unprocessed food (and, sorry, minimizing sugar and alcohol, which can deplete the immune system). 
* For the outside world, consider using surgical gloves for contacting surfaces. Avoid opening and closing doors with your hands — try using knuckles instead. Elbows are great for elevator buttons. Be creative with greeting others — no shaking hands! Try …. ankle bumps, bowing, or even the Spock salute. : )
MOST IMPORTANTLY, wash your hands. A lot. Sing Happy birthday twice (or repeat lots of healthy affirmations) while you’re washing every nook and cranny of your hands, up to your wrists. Use something clean to dry them. 
 
Here’s a helpful video about the coronavirus and how it works:   https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/videos/what-actually-happens-if-you-get-coronavirus-331164
 
This article explains why soap is better than hand sanitizer: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/deadly-viruses-are-no-match-for-plain-old-soap-heres-the-science-behind-it-2020-03-08
 
But, sometimes hand sanitizer is helpful when you can’t get to a sink! Since hand sanitizer is sold out in most places, have some fun making your own! It needs to be at least 60% alcohol to be effective.  https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Gel-Alcohol-Hand-Sanitizer
 
This simple experiment with bread and various states of dirty hands will certainly inspire your kids to wash their hands! https://www.sciencealert.com/this-simple-experiment-with-bread-is-a-genius-way-to-get-kids-to-wash-their-hands
 
Disposable rubber gloves are definitely better for the environment if you need to touch a lot of public property and want a fresh pair each day:
https://www.amazon.com/Compostable-Food-Prep-Gloves-Eco-Friendly/dp/B07P7N17XQ

Here are some important online resources from New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s newsletter as we all navigate through this very new situation:

Visit http:// nyc.gov/health/coronavirus on a daily basis for the most up-to-date and complete information regarding the new coronavirus/COVID-19.  Additional resources:

World Health Organization – Coronavirus Disease Advice for the Public
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

____________________________________________________________________
Here is an informative map of NYC coronavirus cases:

COVID-19 NYC
https://goo.gl/maps/pMbERzmpb11jpvH9A
___________________________________________________________

With blessings to all for safety, health and well-being! 

Namaste,
Melissa Mati

Integral Yoga’s Namaste Newsletter Interview – Teacher of the Month (Feb. 2020)

photo by Melissa Elstein 2020

I hope you enjoyed a peaceful full “snow” moon weekend!

This month, I am honored that Integral Yoga Institute’s Namaste Newsletter featured my yoga-tai chi fusion class in their “teacher of the month” segment.  A special thank you to IYI’s Sarah McElwain for the interview, Krista Finck for the photo, and Ramdas for the tech assistance.  Here’s an excerpt of the article, and you may read the entire article at:  
https://iyiny.org/classes/featured-teacher-of-the-month/melissa-mati-elstein/

Integral Yoga Institute in New York City, Melissa demonstrates Tai Chi Walking. KiraGrace Yoga Leggings.
Photo by Krista Finck at Integral Yoga Institute – 2019


What inspired you to create your Tai Chi Easy ™ and Chair Yoga Fusion Class?
As a Yoga teacher who has more than a decade of experience working with students in their “golden years,” I find that the most common desire expressed by that population is to improve balance and prevent falls. I agree with the practicality and necessity of those goals, as preventing falls is lifesaving, especially as we age.  Studies consistently demonstrate that the weight-shifting aspects of Tai Chi improve balance. Here’s one recent article discussing this health benefit: https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20181002/adding-tai-chi-helps-seniors-avoid-dangerous-falls

When I studied with Dr. Roger Jahnke, who created Tai Chi Easy™,  this style of Tai Chi versus the longer traditional forms resonated with me. Because this form is shorter and simplified, it is immediately accessible to students, compared with a longer Tai Chi choreography that can take years for students to memorize and whose complexity often leads to large student attrition rates. Although Tai Chi Easy™ is easier to learn, it is no less effective, thanks to its practice of multidirectional and mindful Tai Chi walking as well as other weight-shifting exercises.

In addition to Tai Chi walking, Tai Chi Easy™ includes the ancient practice of Qigong (energy cultivation) and standing meditations. Just as in Yoga, these practices help to focus and calm the mind and increase our life force energy (chi or prana).

A year after my Tai Chi Easy™ training, I completed the Chair Yoga training with Hamsa and Achala at Integral Yoga Institute. I felt that combining aspects of both modalities created a truly comprehensive movement class, given my goal of bringing practical skills to students as well as a sense of peace and tranquillity. Thus, my fusion class starts with seated Chair Yoga warm-ups, joint-freeing movements, leg and core strengthening exercises, and seated stretches that prepare the body for the standing and walking Tai Chi/Qigong second part of the class. We end the class with more Yoga, such as legs up the wall or over a chair, savasana, and a short seated meditation.

What do you hope students will get from this class?
I hope that my students will find that their balance and coordination have improved, that their confidence about walking and navigating the city streets is enhanced, and that they are physically stronger than before practicing with me. I hope that once students learn the class skills, they will be inspired to practice them at home as well. I also hope that the calming aspects of Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga will bring a sense of peace and tranquility to class participants. After all, most if not all New Yorkers could use easy-to-learn stress reduction techniques in our fast-paced and stressful modern society. It never fails to amaze me that the ancient practices of Yoga and Qigong, developed thousands of years ago, are still relevant and beneficial in 2020! 

What experience did you bring to the development of the class?
In addition to the trainings mentioned above, my experience as a professional ballet dancer has also helped to inform my knowledge of teaching movement skills and balance. My teaching style tends to be more fluid than static, and that stems from my lifelong passion for dance, especially ballet. I’m certified in Pilates mat for core strengthening, and that factors into my movement choices for this and other classes. A strong and flexible core (abdominals and back muscles) is key to preventing injuries, increasing longevity, and improving balance. As a former practicing attorney, I tend to think very pragmatically; thus, everything I teach has a practical purpose, with the goal of assisting students not just in the class but also in their everyday lives physically, mentally, and spiritually.

What other projects are you currently working on?
For many years, I have been teaching a telephone version of this class to seniors, some of them home-bound, through the DOROT Center (and more recently with the Queens Library’s Mail-a-Book program). Because it is in a conference call format, the entire class is conducted seated, and we have more discussion and readings from Dr. Jahnke’s books and other resources. (All students receive the written materials and movement diagrams when they sign up for the course.) We also do self-massage techniques that are part of the Tai Chi Easy™ protocol, and loving-kindness metta meditations. I love hearing from my telephone students that they feel the benefits of the practice, even while done seated or lying down.
(Article continues on the website link above…)

April Yoga Class Schedule; Sun Salutation Workshop; Chair Yoga; Super Blood Moon; Plastic Pollution Seminar;

Wishing you a very happy holiday weekend!  This weekend brings us Easter, Passover and a second “blue moon”.  A very auspicious time, it seems!  Here is an interesting article, with a beautiful photo slide show, describing this weekend’s phenomenon that also gives us a super blood moon and full lunar eclipse:  https://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/938509/Blue-moon-2018-spiritual-meaning-superstitions-astrology  Happy viewing!


Google Images

This April I have a number of workshops and classes I am offering; full descriptions are below. I hope to see you at one or more of these.  Also, I am seeking donations for my environmental community event I host in May that helps educate about the importance of our street trees, and provides tools and materials for New Yorkers to “adopt” and care for their own neighborhood tree! See below for more details.  Any donations would be most appreciated, as this is a matching opportunity, and is tax deductible!   https://www.ioby.org/project/love-your-street-tree-day-2018

SUN SALUTATION WORKSHOP: 
If you have struggled with all or part of the famous yoga sequence, the Sun Salutation, this workshop is for you!  Learn each position and transition in the flow with time to dissect it part by part and discover which modifications or versions work best for you.  This workshop involves discussion and practice and comes with a take home outline.  Bring a pen and your questions, and learn how to flow with ease the next time you salute the sun!


PLASTIC POLLUTION SEMINAR:
In honor of Earth Day 2018 and its’ focus on plastic pollution, I will be speaking at the Dorot Center for Seniors on Friday, April 27 on “How to Reduce Our Single-Use Plastic Consumption and Why It’s So Important”.  I will be joined by marine biologist Dr. Judith Weis; we are both steering committee members of the NY/NJ Plastic Free Waters Partnershiphttp://www.plasticfreewaters.org  Learn about the plastic pollution crisis currently facing our planet, how it impacts all of us, and what we can do to reduce our plastic footprint with easy to implement solutions.  It is estimated that at the current rate of plastic consumption, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050!

An impromptu 1-hour beach cleanup in Boca, Florida (Feb. 2018)

MY CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN TO HELP THE STREET TREES:
Seeking your support!  As you may know, I cofounded with a couple other folks, the NYC “Love Your Street Tree” initiative almost four years ago.  This initiative is to bring awareness to the importance of caring for our street trees especially now that the city completed its’ million trees planting initiative.  As part of our “Love Your Street Tree” project, we provide free educational events at schools and in the community, created and host our Annual “Love Your Street Tree Day” Spring Cleanup and Planting Day every May.  This May 20th, will be our 4th year hosting tree loving New Yorkers and providing them with free gardening gift bags that contain all the tools and supplies they will need to take care and steward the street trees in their neighborhood, including our popular double-sided “curb your dog signs” – dog waste being a health issue when it is not properly disposed of (and frankly disgusting when it is tracked into our homes on the bottom of our shoes).   At our event, we also teach participants how to properly care for a street tree and do sample demonstrations.


http://www.loveyourstreettreeday.com

This year, our project has been accepted by non-profit crowdfunding site – ioby.  This is very exciting, as all donations will be matched dollar for dollar!  Your donations will help us purchase the items for our free urban gardening gift bags, such as gardening tools, the curb your dog signs, watering buckets, gloves, plants or seeds – all the items necessary for beautifying the neighborhood and properly taking care of our beautiful and beneficial street trees!  You will be emailed a charitable tax receipt.  I and our other tree cleanup volunteers will be so grateful!

If you can do me a favor and donate this week before our official public ioby launch next week, I would very much appreciate it as that creates important momentum!  Street trees help clean, cool and purify our urban air, improve citizens’ physical and emotional health, absorb stormwater thus keeping raw sewage and other pollutants from entering our waterways during storms, increase property and business values, provide shelter for birds, and beautify our city!  

Please donate here:  https://www.ioby.org/project/love-your-street-tree-day-2018

By the way, when you donate, there will be an ask from ioby to make an optional gratuity to them as well – they are also a non-profit.  Just a heads up, in case that is confusing!  Thanks again.

Other 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.

Seated Tai Chi Easy Teleclass hosted by Dorot Center for Seniors “University Without Walls” 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