Archive for Universal commonality

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. 
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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

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Here is an informative map of NYC coronavirus cases:

COVID-19 NYC
https://goo.gl/maps/pMbERzmpb11jpvH9A
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With blessings to all for safety, health and well-being! 

Namaste,
Melissa Mati

January 2017 Yoga Schedule and Post Election Satsang Sharing Circle

Wishing everyone a peaceful and healthy New Year, and hoping you had joyful holidays.

This past year’s Christmas and Hanukkah were celebrated on the same day – an event that had not occurred in 40 years!  Let us hope that is a good sign for more tolerance and harmony in the world for 2017.

I was raised celebrating all the main Jewish and Christian holidays (of course, loving all the extra gifts). But now as an adult, I appreciate having been exposed at a young age to many holidays and traditions. I was also raised in Teaneck, NJ after my parents moved from NYC when I was a toddler.  My town was a true melting pot of ethnicities and races, and I believe was the first town to voluntarily desegregate its’ schools. When I look at my old class photos, I am amazed at how diverse my class truly was.  We just accepted it as normal, and I do not remember any racial issues or religious intolerance between the young students. Looking back at that formative time of my life, I also appreciate that positive exposure to inclusivity and believe that early exposure to differences is key to tolerance, acceptance, and racial harmony.

As a young ballet dancer in NYC, I was further exposed to students with different sexual orientations and that broadened my horizons as well.  When we have friends who some people label as “the other”, we see beyond those externals and to the true inner selves. It is harder to generalize and rely only on unfair stereotypes, when we know the humanness of the individual beyond the color of skin, beyond whatever god that is being worshiped or not, and one’s sexual orientation.  It is not to say that we are completely immune to internalizing some cultural and media-influenced stereotypes, but hopefully our self-awareness cultivated through our meditative and psychological practices allows us to examine those negative thoughts or feelings, and release them without acting upon them.  I am grateful to have lived my entire life in the northeast of America where I have worked and socialized with the world’s multicultural human rainbow.

Many of us are thinking about these issues of inclusion versus discrimination, love versus hate, peace versus violence after what can be described as a depressing and base election season (I believe, a true low point in this great country’s history).  January 2017 will mark the end of our first African American President’s two terms, and I can remember the excitement and pride I felt 8 years ago watching President Obama being sworn in to office.  This month also ushers in a new president and administration, and with any major changes, anxiety and stress may ensue; especially given the tenor and tone of the campaign.

As such, my friend and fellow yoga teacher Deborah Quilter and I are hosting an evening of sharing.  You are invited to a yoga “Satsang” on Thursday evening January 12th where we can share our responses to the 2016 election and our hopes for 2017. This will be a sharing circle where we will create a safe, non-judgmental space for all opinions and feelings. As such, we all will participate in non-partisan political way, and as open-minded yoga practitioners.  We will come together for an evening of chanting, sharing, and support. We thank Integral Yoga Institute for ​providing space for our Satsang! If you know anyone who would like to join us, please pass this invitation along to them, but please let us know who will be attending. This is a free event as IYI is generously donating the room for the event, and Deborah and I are volunteering (“karma yoga”).  However, IYI will accept donations for their continued mission of being an oasis of peace and yoga. We look forward to seeing you on January 12!

January 2015 – Happy New Year and Travels to Colombia

Dear friends,

Happy New Year!  Wishing you all wonderful things for 2015 – peace, happiness, abundance, health, love, joy, and more!

I just returned from a enjoyable trip to Colombia – a beautiful country with lovely people, great sights, and delicious food.  I am so happy that tourism is increasing there, as the country has gotten safer.  I enjoyed our sight-seeing there – from the small Caribbean city Cartagena, the coffee and wax palm tree region of Pereira, to the mountainous capitol of Bogota.  When travelling, whether nationally or abroad, I am fascinated by observing and experiencing both the commonalities and the differences between people from place to place.  The more I travel, the more I realize that basically most humans want the same things – connection, security, good food, love, safety, peace, fun and laughter (in no specific order).  And within these common desires, is often the uniqueness of how one’s culture expresses them.  So travelling for me is a study of the beautiful blending of commonality and diversity on this glorious planet.  It makes me a better person as I open myself to ways that are different from my cultural and societal upbringings, and yet I can still find the universal commonality of humankind.  It may sound corny, but I do truly believe that the more we are exposed to others by direct personal experience (rather than through the lens of the mass media or propaganda), the more we can find connection and engage in less discrimination.  After all, at the end of the day, we are all just finite skeletal structures encapsulating infinite souls.