Archive for UWS Yoga and Wellness

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

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

October 2016 Schedule and Core Strength Yoga

Wishing everyone a happy Fall and if you celebrate it, Happy Rosh Hashanah!  I am teaching over the Jewish holidays, but am away on Monday, October 10th – Columbus Day.

This month, in addition to my regular weekly classes, I am teaching on Wednesday morning October 19th – Level 1 Hatha Yoga at UWS Yoga & Wellness.  Also this month, I teach a “Strong to the Core” Yoga Workshop at Integral Yoga Institute on Monday night, October 17th.  At this workshop, you will learn safe and effective ways to strengthen the core, especially the hard-to-reach lower abdominals. Strong abs make balancing poses easier and are the key to a graceful posture. In this workshop, you will learn abdominal exercises that are alternatives to traditional crunches, thereby preventing any neck or upper-back tension. The 2-hour workshop also includes back-strengthening poses, as well as a focus on standing balances. Enhance your yoga practice with a strong center! This workshop comes with a take-home outline.  I hope you can join me!

I was super excited to see an article in last month’s Dance Magazine (see below)  that depicts and recommends one of the core exercises I give in all my classes!  The wellness editor of http://www.4dancers.org , Jan Dunn, writes that simply doing ab exercises can lead to “key weaknesses in supporting the whole body in action” because “core control is much more than just abdominal strength.”  Her “favorite” exercise is below as true core control includes “back stabilization, and involves the coordinated effort of several different muscles in the torso to stabilize the spine.”  I agree, and for those reasons, my personal practice and my classes focus on these type of exercises rather than traditional sit-ups. In my weekly Tuesday class at UWS Yoga & Wellness, instead of using foam rollers as mentioned in the article, we use soft medium-sized exercise balls under the low back and buttocks to create an unstable surface on which to balance and to protect the low back muscles while strengthening the core.  The effect and the results are similar to using the roller, but the balls are more portable and easier to store if there are space limitations. I love to travel with my pilates ball, as it is deflates and weighs next to nothing, and it can also be used as a back support in your car or on the plane.

Here is my full October 2016 teaching schedule. Also, if you are looking for a meditative style yoga class on Tuesday evenings, my friend and fellow Rasa Yoga teacher, Richard Allon, is now teaching every Tuesday evening 6:30 – 7:45 pm at NYC Pilates (located in the former Rasa Yoga building at 246 West 80th Street off Broadway).  It feels like I am blissfully returning “home”!  (My first yoga training was Rasa Yoga, and it incorporates sounding during gentle postures.  Richard’s class was the event that actually changed my life direction; I wandered into Rasa Yoga 14 years ago, and after taking his lovely class, I never returned to practicing law.  Instead, I completed their and other yoga teacher training programs, and have been teaching mindful movement practices for over 12 years).  Richard is teaching in the Rasa Yoga style, but also adding other postures and flows, in a generally gentle format.  If you have any questions, please see http://www.nyc-pilates.com  and email Richard at ra@richardallonarchitect.com

July 2016 Schedule; Core Strength Yoga Returns and OpEd on Urban Greening

Wishing everyone a happy and safe July 4th weekend!  A reminder that Integral Yoga is closed on Monday, July 4th.  Also, I will be on a working and pleasure vacation that holiday week teaching teen ballet classes at the Olga Dunn Ballet School in the Berkshires.

When I return to NYC, some great news:  Core Strength Yoga at UWS Yoga & Wellness will reconvene – we will now be on a new day of the week, but same lunch time spot!  Starting Tuesday, July 12th at noon, my fusion class of yoga and pilates returns!  Thanks to all of you who had communicated your wishes to UWS Yoga, and a special thanks to Ingrid and Stephan for being so flexible (yoga pun intended) and accommodating!  I am very grateful and appreciative!

Many of you already know about my interest in urban greening; when I am not taking or teaching movement classes, I am working on my volunteer community initiatives.  Here is a recent OpEd I wrote on the benefits of urban trees, why NYC needs citizen tree stewards, and the importance of well-permeable soil in tree beds for stormwater absorption and reduction of sewage overflows into our waterways.  I welcome your thoughts and feedback!
http://www.westsidespirit.com/columnsop-ed/20160615/greening-new-york