Having Fun at High Street Yoga with the Food Drive

Our first donation for the Norco Food Pantry

Susan in Tree Pose with some of her donation!

Warriors Brandie and Mandy with their donations!

Thanks for the generous donations for the Norco Food Pantry, keep them coming and lets fill the Pottstown Mercury Media Lab with food by April 7th!

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Fill the Media Lab Food Drive

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” Sally Koch

The North Coventry Food Pantry is an organization that is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve spent time over the past several years, stocking shelves, preparing food for pick up and collecting whenever I can.  However, it never feels like I can give enough time and it always feels like their need is so great

When the Pottstown Mercury’s Police Reporter Brandie Kessler, who is a fellow High Street Yogi, was inspired to help local pantries, the idea to Fill the Community Media Lab with food became a reality.  The goal is to collect 20,000 items and 1,000 containers of laundry detergent which will benefit area food pantries, including The Cluster Outreach Center, Norco Food Pantry and the Boyertown Area Multi-Service, as well as food pantries in Royersford, Spring City, Phoenixville, Collegeville and the Upper Perkiomen Valley.  The Mercury has partnered with the Town Square Bloggers to reach out to the community and offer drop off points for foods.

I will be collecting for the North Coventry Food Pantry at 141 East High Street at High Street Yoga on the 2nd floor or on the 1st floor at The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks.

The North Coventry Food Pantry is need of jelly, canned pasta, canned meat, spaghetti sauce, fruit, and Mac and cheese. They always need toilet paper and paper towels.

Schuylkill River Heritage is also a drop off point for the Norco Pantry.  Check out town square blogger Laura Catalano’s   post, the article in the Mercury and the map of other drop off points.

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Aerial Yoga

This is me doing pigeon pose!

Last week I attended an Aerial Yoga class with friend and fellow High Street Yoga teacher Maryann.  We’d heard about Aerial Yoga after reading an article in the Reading Eagle about a studio in Kutztown.  After some research Maryann found us a class at MoYo Yoga in Skippack which is much closer.

There were three of us in the class and all three were yoga instructors eager to learn more.   Long colorful hammock like fabric hung from a beam in the ceiling.  Our instructor Pat explained that the hammocks were hung at varying heights to accommodate students of different sizes.  She explained the hammocks could hold up to 2,000 lbs and explained the details of how they were hung.  I can’t remember that part!

We started the class on the floor doing a few cat cows and Pat instructed us to extend our left leg back and into the sling and then come up into a plank pose.  Next she instructed us to bring that knee toward the nose.  I immediately realized that this was going to be hard!  After a few rounds of this on each side we got into the sling.  Pat guided us clearly and carefully into bound angle and then if we wanted we could hang upside down in bound angle.  Sitting in the sling in the pose gave a deep stretch  and falling back into the pose was both exhilarating and calming.

She led us through many more poses and most of them inverted.  My two favorites were down dog split and pigeon.  We got into downward dog and then extended one leg up into three limbed down dog.  We wrapped the extended leg in the fabric.  My hip began to cramp up.  I’d run 4 miles before class and my hip flexors were not liking this pose!  Once Pat encouraged me to straighten my leg more, my hips released and it felt so good. It was such a deep stretch.

After down dog she instructed us into pigeon and I couldn’t have been happier.  Pigeon is by far my favorite pose.  I could sleep in it.  I couldn’t wait to get into a sling and be upside down!  It felt amazing!

The class was more physically challenging then I thought and getting used to the fabric and the feel of the sling took some time.  I felt like I was able to go into the poses deeper then on the floor.  Savasana and Child’s pose were both comforting and supported in the sling.  I look forward to attending this class again.

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Yoga in the Park

Last weekend I taught the first Yoga in the Park Series at Memorial Park in Pottstown.  The class was partnered with the Hill School.  Over 100 students attended the 9 am class along with at least 50 more community members.  The morning started out chilly but by 9 am the sun came out and stayed out for us!  The beauty of being outside, and looking at the sky while sharing the collective energy was the highlight for me.

The class focused on standing poses and was followed by the sun salutation.  The group did the salutation as a ‘wave’ followed by one large group tree poses and finished with Savasana.

Check out the great article in the Mercury about the event!

Namaste!

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Mud, Obstacles and Yoga

Last Saturday I participated in the Pa Spartan Race.  I registered not really knowing what I was getting into. I’d heard of mud runs and I’d been running more so I thought why not?!  About a month before the race I realized that I needed to start doing more then just run so I added sit ups, push ups and burpees to my routine.  2 weeks before the run I found the Spartan Chicks and that is when I found out exactly what I had gotten myself into.  This was the mother of all mud runs with intense obstacles, walls, barbed wire, fire etc.  I began to get a little nervous!  I realized it was time to step things up; I did two sets of burpees each day, push ups at the kitchen island whenever I was in there, which is a lot with three kids.  Every afternoon I carried two backpacks up our steep hill, one in the front and one in the back along with a viola and sax just to get the extra weight.  It’s not a rock or a sandbag but as a mom of three I’ll take what I can get.  Even with all this, I felt like it was little too late to be in the kind of shape needed for a Spartan Race.  I reached out to the Spartan Chicks on line with my fears and received and outpouring of support and encouragement.  I was encouraged to run my own race, take my time, take one obstacle at a time, and believe in myself.  Wow, this was starting to sound a lot like Yoga Philosophy.  How often in class do I say “listen to your body”  “find your edge w/o going over”  “Accept your body exactly where you are w/o judgment”  My worry and fear had gotten in the way and I wasn’t enjoying the process of training and being in the moment, in my body.  I was so grateful that I’d reached out to these women.  I felt such clarity and even a sense of calm.  I knew I would do the race and finish it and have fun.

My yoga principles helped me out throughout the race.  There is a practice called walking meditation where you use the experience of walking as the focus.  The first two miles of the race was straight up Blue Mountain.  Many participants stopped or sat to catch their breath.  I knew I couldn’t stop so I looked at my feet, got into my zone and just repeated the mantra ‘one step’ until I got to the top.

The same mindfulness came into play with the bucket of rocks.  I focused only on my breath, breathing in and breathing out.  I didn’t look to see how far I had to go or how far I’d been.  I focused on each step and each breath.

Going down the mountain was equally as challenging to me. I was cautious and went slow.  In retrospect it was probably the hardest part for me mentally.  It left me with anxiety that I didn’t expect.

Before the race I was afraid of the fire and I jumped over it with such a sense of freedom and pride.  I am proud to say I finished the 4.8 miles and 20 obstacles and had fun!

Yesterday was a week and a day after the Race and I found myself running a 6 mile loop, a loop I hadn’t run in almost three years since my Dad died.  The run gave me time to reflect.

I’ve faced my share of obstacles over the past few years; I lost both of my parents in a span of 17 months in addition to a long list of other tragedies.   Grief and stress take a tremendous amount of energy and all of my energy went into living each day, taking care of my family and running my business.  I didn’t have any extra energy to run.  The Spartan Run and especially the Spartan Chicks came into my life when I was ready for it.  There is a Buddhist expression that says ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will come” The time was right for me to head down this path and I consider each one of the amazing Spartan Chicks as my teachers for inspiring me.

The symbolic meaning of the lotus flower is something I hold near and dear to my heart.  The lotus flower grows in the mud and rises into something beautiful.  Despite challenge and difficult circumstances it still blooms into something beautiful.  Ironically I got a lotus tattoo years ago long before I understood suffering.  Now I feel I’ve risen through the mud, symbolically and literally!

I’ve thrown my list of stress and grief into the flames of the last challenge because it is my story but it doesn’t define me.  I faced my obstacles and conquered them.

Namaste’

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Relay for Life Pottstown

Last weekend I attended my first Relay for Life in Pottstown Pa.  Relay for Life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  Members of the community come together at a local track with a team and someone from the team walks for 24 hours straight because Cancer never sleeps.  The Pottstown Relay is one of the largest and is highly recognized.

This year I had the opportunity and honor to teach two yoga classes for participants, one in the evening and a sunrise one for those that camped out.  The event is so large that visitors are encouraged to park at a local elementary school and shuttle to Pottstgrove High School.  I left my house with plenty of time to get the event and park and spend some time walking around.    Teams set up camps with tents, tables, chairs and sales to help their team fund raising efforts. I arrived with plenty of time to browse.  There were food vendors as well as teams selling food. I got tomato pie for lunch and spent some time with the team Friends on Earth and Friends Above.  Several members of the team are friends and fellow yogis.   They were selling bracelets.  Each bracelet represented every kind of cancer.  I bought a black and white one to honor my Mom who passed away of Lung Cancer last March.

Yoga was held under the main tent in front of the stage.  I had 30 minutes to teach and focused on gentle stretches for the legs, hips and low back.  The Sunday morning class was the same.  I was most happy with all the kids that showed up, and kids of all ages.  There were young kids, and A LOT of teens both boys and girls.  Kids are fearless and always willing to give something new a try.  I enjoyed being able to teach yoga at such an amazing event.  The class wasn’t quiet, or meditative, but I like to think helpful none the less.

After my evening class I went home, got my boys and we went back for the Luminary Ceremony.  The ceremony is to honor loved ones lost and those who have won their battle.  We purchased a luminary in honor of my Mom and were able to light the candle ourselves.  The candles are set up on the bleachers and spell the word hope.  Candles also surround the track.  There is a reflections garden next to the bleachers.  Several Survivors share their story; we watched an interpretive dance and a symbolic reading of the dinner table.  The most powerful part of the evening was the silent walk.  Every person at the event (and there were thousands) walked around the track in silence following a drum beat.

This was the first and won’t be last Relay for Life for me.  I’ve heard say it is a life changing event and I agree.

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Blog about Blogging

This isn’t a post about yoga, so if you are a yoga follower you may not be interested.  This is a blog about blogging.

My blog is linked with about 30 other blogs to our local paper the Pottstown Mercury.  Over a year ago they created a community bloggers section called Town Square.   What does that mean?  Local bloggers from the surrounding communities are linked to the Mercury.  The blog topics range from Knitting, to Social Media.  There are blogs about Healthy Living, Cooking, Biking, Fishing and Community Events, along with so many more.

The Mercury hosts meetings for the Town Square Bloggers which usually include a guest speaker, snacks and plenty of time for networking, sharing ideas, answering questions and getting to know fellow bloggers.

We met yesterday and the guest speaker was fellow Town Square Blogger Drew Griffin of Mojo Social Media Marketing.  The topic was using Social Media websites, video content and Mobile Marketing to enhance traffic to blog sites.  The range of bloggers was varied.  Some were very familiar with social media and others not so much. Some were there because they were considering starting a blog and wanted more information.  Drew did a great job of sharing information to all the levels of experience.  I learned a lot and left motivated to re-dedicate more time to my blog.

As a yoga blogger, most of my readers are yogis. (And my husband)  Most of the blogs I follow are yoga blogs.  The Town Square Blogger group has opened up my world of reading and networking to so much more.

Even though this isn’t a yoga blog I still need to end this with Namaste’.  For my non-yoga readers this means;

I honor the place in you where the universe dwells.  I honor the place in you that is of love light peace and truth.  When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are the same.

Namaste’ and Namaste’ to my fellow Town Square Bloggers.

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