Archive for Integral Yoga Institute

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

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…)

December Musings

Dear Friends and Family,  

I hope you are doing well and enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday weekend! 

I am happy to share with you that my “Tai Chi Easy™/ Chair Yoga” fusion class returns to Integral Yoga Institute this Winter 2020. Come to any one or all of the classes; no prior experience is needed!  Description and class dates are on my website, and as always, feel free to email me any questions.  Hope to see you and your friends there! 
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Additionally, I will be volunteer gift wrapping at Book Culture (a charming book and gift store) on Columbus Avenue at 81-82 streets this holiday season in order to raise funds and awareness for my non-profit organization and volunteer work (http://www.west80s.org ), and to encourage support of our mom and pop stores. We have all observed the sad state of our NYC storefronts; it seems as if every block has at least two empty storefronts these days, and many blocks are almost completely barren. Not only does this create a sight of urban blight, but it also results in less appealing urban conditions (darker sidewalks, increased litter, reduced sense of community, fewer jobs, loss of neighborhood character and uniqueness, to name a few.  So when we shop local, we not only help that small business but we are helping our community as well!    

With the two of the owners of Book Culture on Columbus Avenue
I enjoy volunteering at Book Culture, which in addition to bookssells household products, scarves, hats, handbags, calendars, decorative items, Christmas tree ornaments, and more! Please shop local, shop small, and come visit me at Book Culture during these times:

Monday:     December 23 (11 am – 4 pm)
Monday:     December 23 (4 – 9 pm)
Tuesdays:    December 317 and 24 (11 am – 4 pm)
Tuesday:     December 24 (4 – 9 pm)
Thursday:   December 19 (4 – 9 pm)
Fridays:        December 13 and 20  (11 am – 4 pm)

A reminder that all gift wrapping paper when done, can be re-used or should be recycled!

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This past Tuesday night, my community work was honored at a local, innovative arts center housed in a beautiful landmarked church on the UWS – The Center at West Parhttps://www.centeratwestpark.org/ . The funds raised at their Gala help pay for structural repairs to their historic building. I am a big fan of their work that brings affordable, high quality performing arts to my neighborhood and am honored to be a part of their Benefit this year. Hoping you can join me in supporting their mission!  To contribute, see https://secure.givelively.org/event/center-at-west-park/3rd-annual-glitz-grit-benefit?mc_cid=6d70fbae85&mc_eid=aaab25eb73


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Hope to see you soon! Thanks for your continued support of my classes and wishing you a joyous holiday season!

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

Tai Chi Easy™ and Chair Yoga Workshop & Telephone Tai Chi Easy™ Classes

Dear Friends and Family,


I hope to see you this Monday night at our last Tai Chi Easy™ and Chair Yoga class of the Fall semester at Integral Yoga Institute.  The changing of the seasons is a time when our bodies can be more vulnerable and susceptible to ailments, so it is especially important to nourish oneself this time of year with gentle movement, energy work, and self-care techniques to boost the immune system.  Our practice will include all of the above, as well as an extended yoga nidra deep relaxation/ guided meditation to refresh the body and spirit.

Additionally this week, on Friday morning my Fall/Winter Tai Chi Easy™  telephone course starts with the “University Without Walls” Dorot for Seniors program.  I love teaching this course as it 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 (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


October Classes; IYI Fall Fundraiser

Hi friends and family,

It may not feel like Fall yet, given the current heat and humidity in NYC, but at a visit to the Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires, they had a festive Fall pumpkin display that reminded me how wonderful this season truly is. The leaves were just starting to turn to their bright orange, yellow and red hues.  The evening mountain air felt crisp, cool and clean while the days were warm enough to enjoy a morning walk and afternoon latte outside in the sun. Although NYC is usually a few weeks or so behind the Berkshires in terms of seasonal shifts, soon our city trees will  also be creating a kaleidoscope of colors for our viewing pleasure. Let’s allow the metamorphosis of the deciduous trees to inspire us as well; shedding what we no longer need in our lives and preparing for new growth and personal expansion.

Tree pose in yoga is one of the most grounding asanas; not only does it help us work on our balance, but it also helps us focus and still the mind as one cannot easily balance on one leg if the mind is scattered and not connected to what the body is doing in that moment.  Whether one is balancing on the yoga mat, or holding on to a chair or wall, envision the soles of your feet as if they were the roots of the tree reaching down towards the center of the Earth, your legs and torso as the strong, steady tree trunk, and your arms as the tree branches connecting to the sky above or laterally towards other trees in the forest. One nice, and challenging option, is to wave your arms and torso slightly from side to side emulating a tree swaying in the gentle breeze and further challenging our balance in the pose.  Perhaps next time you practice tree pose (vrikshasana), embody a beautiful Fall tree with its’ vibrant colors inspiring awe to those who view it.  Have fun with your experiment, and remember no judgments (employing the yogic concept of ahimsa in all our poses) – even if you come out of the pose sooner than you had planned! Yoga is all about practice and process, being in the moment and letting go of goals.

See below for this month’s class schedule.  Please note that I will be on vacation until mid-October, but hope to see you before or after my trip!  I will be attending the Integral Yoga Fall Fundraiser,and perhaps you will be there as well?  See below for the information on what will no doubt be a special evening supporting this historic NYC yoga center and ashram. IYI directors, Chandra and Swami Asokananda, are truly lovely people and dedicated yogis; you will have an opportunity to converse with them and your fellow students outside of yoga class, enjoy a delicious meal, and help support this yoga non-profit organization.

Gentle Yoga; Fall Equinox 2018

Happy Fall 2018! I hope you had a wonderful Fall Equinox weekend.  I spent a good portion of the beautiful weekend in both Riverside and Central Parks, and it looked as if most of the city was there as well enjoying our urban nature! Every time I step into Central Park, I feel a wonderful energetic shift as I breathe in the fresh air, park trees and flowers, and soak in the beauty around me.  I highly recommend adding a park walk to your work commute, or general daily schedule. If you have not been to the Central Park Conservancy’s lotus and lily pond at 100th Street off 5th Avenue, please check it out.  The pond and the surrounding gardens are spectacular!

Here is an interesting article on the Fall Equinox as well!  https://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/12-facts-about-autumnal-equinox.html

This Thursday morning, I am teaching a Gentle Yoga class at Integral Yoga on West 13th Street. See below or right for the details.  I hope to see you there, and I am delighted to be be teaching at one of my favorite yoga centers again this week.  I realize that there is an important Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court hearing at the time of this class, and many of us are finding this whole situation very stressful, so I recommend setting your television DVR and watching it (or reading about it) after connecting to your inner centered place during yoga.

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Class Descriptions:

Gentle Yoga:

Restore your inner balance in this gentle yoga class that combnes toning and chanting with flowing posture, deepening the meditative aspect of the practice. This class is designed as a moving meditation that helps us slow down our thoughts and connect to our true essence; balance our chakras (the subtle energy centers so vital to overall health, well-being and spiritual development); and harmonize our body, mind, and spirit.   Class concludes with a guided yoga nidra (deep relaxation technique) and savasana (relaxation pose) leaving us feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

This class is suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners.