Is Mindfulness Revolutionary?

To be “mindful” is to be attentive and aware.  “Mindfulness” then, according to the dictionary, is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations,  and is used as a therapeutic technique.”

According to a recent article in Time Magazine (The Art of Being Mindful by Kate Pickert), “Mindfulness says we can do better. At one level, the techniques associated with the philosophy are intended to help practitioners quiet a busy mind, becoming more aware of the present moment and less caught up in what happened earlier or what’s to come. Many cognitive therapists commend it to patients as a way to help cope with anxiety and depression.  More broadly, it’s seen as a means to deal with stress.”  The author, a staff writer on health issues for the magazine, was not a regular practitioner of mindfulness prior to writing the article and simply explored mindfulness techniques for this “time when no one seems to have enough time” and when “our devices allow us to be many places at once but at the cost of being unable to fully inhabit the place where we actually want to be.”  She goes on to say, “If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age, then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response.”

But is mindfulness, as the cover of the magazine implies (“The Mindful Revolution; the science of finding focus in a stressed-out, multitasking culture”), revolutionary?  After all, yoga practitioners have included mindful meditation as part of the yoga journey for centuries and the word “yoga” means “union”, the process of finding harmony of the mind, body and spirit.  But, do we incorporate intentional mindfulness in our every day practices often enough?  Do we exercise the “mindfulness muscles” as well as we exercise the physical ones?

Five Steps to Mindfulness Meditation (Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Five Steps to Mindfulness Meditation (Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn)

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, an expert in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), suggests the five steps shown above as a starting point for mindfulness meditation.  His studies and those of other scientists, “have been able to prove that meditation and rigorous mindfulness training can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immune response and possibly even affect gene expression.  Scientific study is also showing that meditation can have an impact on the structure of the brain itself.”  Studies are currently underway to learn “whether meditation – and the mindfulness that results from it – can counteract what happens to our minds because of stress, trauma and constant distraction.”

How about you?  Are you using mindfulness meditation to help yourself be more present and less distracted?  Do you need assistance in developing this practice further?  Sunrise Yoga frequently offers classes in mindfulness meditation with the next one taking place on Sunday, February 16th from 3:30-5:00 pm.  Gwen McLaughlin will coach you into finding ways to make this practice a part of your routine.  Learn more about Gwen and the rest of the Sunrise Yoga staff here.

What is the Community Yoga Class at Sunrise Yoga and why is it FREE?

Sunrise Yoga_ITM2530 Hi Res with Valerie Kiser instructingYoga teaches us the importance of helping others. We support and participate in your community through activities and donations to the Clemmons Food Pantry, For Katie’s Sake/Winston-Salem Foundation, National MS Society, American Heart Association, Second Harvest Food Bank, Make A Wish, SECU Family House and Meals-on-Wheels. Since 2004, we (YOU!) have raised over $26,000 to support these local charities!

Additionally, once a month, we offer a FREE yoga class to everyone in the community. This class is a perfect opportunity for those who are brand new to yoga to find out what yoga is all about! It’s even more fun if you bring a friend! Each class includes a brief introductory discussion about yoga, yoga poses, breathing practices, and relaxation techniques.  This is our way of saying thank you to such a supportive community!

No pre-registration is necessary for the Community Yoga Class – just show up. Plus, anyone who attends the Community Yoga Class will receive a 10% discount on the purchase of any class card (Purchase must be on the day of the free class only.)! We encourage Community Yoga Class participants to help us continue to support our community by bringing non-perishable food items to donate for the Clemmons Food Pantry.

Our next FREE Community Yoga Class is Sunday, February 2nd, 3:30-4:30 pm with Cathy Howe.  The March FREE Community Yoga Class will take place Sunday, March 30th, 3:30-4:30 pm again with Cathy.  Still not sure?  Watch this video to learn more about yoga and about Sunrise Yoga Studio.

Wednesday, January 29 evening classes update

Wednesday, January 29 evening classes:  we will be open!  6-7:25 = Beginner Yoga with Kim.  6-7:30 = instead of Level 4, this will be Levels 2-4 so anyone beyond a Beginner level can join Valerie.  7:35-8:30 PM = Yoga Wall with Kim.

Why Would I Want to Hang from a Wall?!?

Yoga class photos - 037 Yoga class photos - 053If you are a regular at Sunrise Yoga Studio, you have likely had experience with our yoga walls!

Yoga class photos - 059

Yoga Walls are special props that can be used for many types of poses from standing poses, back bends, forward bends, inversions & more. The Walls allow you to move deeper into poses, to understand alignment more in depth, and to simply be more playful in the practice of yoga.

But how does it work?  And if you have not used the yoga wall, what is it and why should you consider yoga wall?

At Sunrise Yoga Studio, Iyengar yoga is emphasized.  Iyengar yoga places emphasis on alignment and introduces the use of props. Yoga props provide support, confidence, and relaxation and assist students in practicing poses that they might not have been able to do otherwise. When the yoga wall is utilized, it provides support, aids in balance and is appropriate for those brand new to yoga as well as those who are quite experienced with yoga.  The support of the wall in training ultimately allows poses away from the wall to be more precise while the work at the wall helps students access and develop deep core muscles.

Benefits from using the yoga wall include improved flexibility and increased strength. The yoga wall is used in all levels of classes at Sunrise Yoga, from chair yoga to Level 4 yoga.  In other words, it is for anybody and all abilities!

Want to learn more?  We offer a monthly yoga wall class with Kim.  This class usually occurs on the last Wednesday of the month from 7:35-8:30 pm.  Come join Kim this Wednesday, January 29th, and hang out with us on the yoga wall!

“Viveka” = Discernment

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“Viveka”, a Sanskrit word translated as “discernment” is an important concept in the study of yoga. So what is viveka and what does it mean to your practice?

Viveka refers to our ability to comprehend details that are not easily evident, or things that we cannot see. For example, when you are on the yoga mat, how can you tell if your feet are aligned properly if your eyes are closed? Or, for students who are practicing in headstands or backbends, how can you establish correct alignment in body parts you cannot see? (And remember – we live a lifetime without ever seeing them all!)

In order to “discern” these things, we must learn to turn our focus inward, concentrate on the details, and develop an ability to detect with senses other than the eyes.  When you are doing that on the yoga mat, it’s called Viveka.

Discernment can be a tall order for the beginner student, but as we grow in our practice and develop our body awareness and our ability to turn our focus inward, the challenge becomes easier.  Learning how to sort through the invisible details when you are on the mat, by honing your skills at discernment, will not only improve the quality of your yoga experience, it will also improve the quality of your experiences off the mat.

2014 Yoga University Enrollment Deadline Approaching!

Sunrise Yoga Studio - Yoga University Teacher Training Certification Program

 

Since 2009, Sunrise Yoga Studio has offered in-depth study programs, through its Yoga University program, for aspiring yoga teachers and dedicated students who desire to deepen their study of yoga beyond our weekly class offerings. Two of these programs, the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program and the 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program offer opportunities for registration through our affiliation with Yoga Alliance. Sunrise Yoga Studio is a Registered Yoga School (RYS) with Yoga Alliance.  These programs immerse the student in the essentials of safe, confident and compassionate yoga practice and the fulfilling yogic lifestyle.  Participation requires yoga studies for at least two years and a desire to deepen the yoga practice. Prior mastery of the poses is not required. This program is designed for everyone regardless of age, size, or fitness level.

Not quite ready for certification but still want to delve further in yoga studies?  Within the Yoga University program we also offer Independent Study and the 3-Month Enrichment Program. In these programs, we open certain classes of the 200-hour Teacher Training and 300-hour Teacher Training to students with at least 6 months of yoga experience.

Watch this video highlighting current and past participants of Yoga University!

In order to participate in any of these, registration is required and the deadline to register is January 31, 2014!  Have questions?  E-mail us at info@SunriseYoga.net.

 

What do you REALLY think about yoga?

30 Day Yoga Challenge at Sunrise Yoga Studio, ClemmonsThe beginning of a new season, new year, new contest is a good time for renewed commitment and dedication.  We take the time to reflect on where we are and where we would like to be.

For those of you who have been practicing yoga for a while, it is also a time to consider what yoga REALLY means to you.  Does it mean one thing to you when you tell others about it but something different when you are in a 90-minute class that is pushing you?  Do you think positively about it when you have less back pain and more mobility but not so positively when you have to force yourself to brave the elements to get to class?  Are there times when it is more checklist and challenge than a channel to a healthy lifestyle?

You aren’t alone!  Author, blogger and yogi Dave Ursillo describes his love/hate relationship with yoga in this blog post.  But, in the post he also says, “Yoga is a practice and engaging in that practice reflects your state of being back to you like a mirror. It shows you where your head and heart are at, right now. Yoga allows you to open yourself up if you’re feeling too closed off — maybe a bad day, maybe some stresses on the mind, maybe you’ve just forgotten that people are everything and that’s why you’ve felt so isolated within yourself lately.”

The verb “practice” is “to perform or do repeatedly in order to acquire skill or proficiency”.  Notice it mentions nothing about acquiring a love for something!  But to “engage” is “to attract and hold fast”.  So, are you just practicing yoga or are you engaged?

At Sunrise Yoga Studio, we are currently involved with a 30 Day Yoga Challenge.  We are very excited by those who have chosen to participate and we hope that, at the end of the 30 days, you have developed not only a deeper commitment, but an engaging practice.  Let us know how we can help!

Come and discover meditation…it’s not what you think!

yoga-meditation

A meditation class explores different techniques of how to focus the mind. Also included are the practices of asana (physical postures), Pranayama (breath control), mudras (hand gestures) and guided meditation.  It can be a guide to learn how to relax, strengthen the body, and aid in a sitting practice.  Develop the techniques for using the breath to calm the mind.

Gwen McLaughlin will lead Taking the Mystery out of Meditation this Sunday, January 12th, 3:30-5:00 pm.  You will be able to ask questions in a safe environment and learn how meditation can benefit a healthy lifestyle.

So come and discover meditation…it’s not what you think!

Learn more about this class.

 

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