Archive for Yoga Nidra

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

“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.

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!