Yoga for Men

men doing yoga

“Yeah, I know I should do yoga…”

It’s a classic refrain I hear from men of all ages and stages of life. They usually mumble it, looking at the floor once they find out I’m a yoga teacher. Whatever kind of fitness they’re into or not into, they all seem to know on some level they “should” be doing yoga and that they “need” yoga. But why is it so hard for men to actually do yoga?

 

Simple: most yoga classes are tailored to women–even the ones taught by men! How does this happen?

Let’s take the body type of typical instructors: they tend to be shorter with innate flexibility and often have backgrounds in dance or gymnastics. They tend to have wider hips with larger sockets, set more on the sides of the pelvis (perfect for doing the splits!). Long arms, short legs are a bonus in pretzel poses. Many classify as hypermobile, so getting their foreheads to the floor on downdog isn’t out of the question! In fact, if you take a look at some of the classical yoga instruction manuals, you will see what looks more like circus contortionists than everyday people.

If you’re a regular guy, you probably look at this photo and think, “ouch,” –and for good reason. Regular people–men and women– should likely not be doing the splits, getting their heads to the floor, or doing extreme versions of the poses which have somehow become normalized. Thanks, Yoga Journal, Adriene, and Instagram!

 

Celebrity yogis / yoga influencers often have 90 degrees of extension in their spines and are hypermobile. They are actually MORE prone to injury as they age than the lesser mobile. If you look at this pose and think it might blow out your back, hip, knee, shoulder, or all three, you’re right!

So, whether you’re a construction worker, doctor, IT dude, or a retiree, chances are if you make it to class, you don’t really feel like it’s for you. You can’t touch your toes, have some back pain, maybe a messed up shoulder. Then we get into the cooing teacher taking about “inner light,” some new-agey music, 360 degrees of mirrors, and the requisite  LuluLemon yoga pants…OMG, go home and turn on ESPN, quick!

A Class Doesn’t Have to be  “Yoga for Men” to Steer Clear of Dude Hell

First, you need a teacher who understands how guys’ bodies work in yoga and can coach you up on how to deal w/ your larger proportions and smaller ranges of motion–all without making you feel like some kind of yoga loser.  Chances are that won’t be a hyper-mobile, 5’6″ female instructor like “Yoga with Adriene.”  But how do you find a class?

Avoid Cookie-Cutter

Here’s a quick pro tip: the easiest thing an instructor can do is teach people with the same body type. Classes then self-select around that body type. If you look into a class and see a sea of bodies that match the instructor’s, all doing cookie-cutter poses, it’s probably not the class for you. What you want to see is a variety: different ages, different body types, and everyone doing the poses differently. While it doesn’t make for great #instayoga photos, it does lead to smarter yoga for better living.

No Mirrors Needed

It’s amazing how much less intimidating a yoga practice can be without mirrors everywhere. The fashion standards go down, but the inner focus goes way up! I guarantee once you stop taking yourself seriously, thinking of yoga as performative and looking around at other people, you’ll show up just because not only do you feel great after class, you feel so relaxed during class–even in the challenging poses!

Just Say No to Flow

Vinyasa flow is another thing you should leave for the gymnast and dancer crowd.  Instead, consider a slow meditative style where the poses are more like martial art “forms” that are held for a while, so there’s actually time to adapt for your body and fitness level. For instance, your stance will likely be narrower than some in the class, but may (or may not, depending upon your hip sockets) expand gradually over time. And, by the way, there will be women in the class who also don’t have a gymnast build (like me!) and have to approach yoga differently.  Yoga was not originally designed for 6-footers, but I’m proof it can be done!  You won’t have to worry about a bunch of choreography with rapid transitions– just slow mindful movement which decreases stress, while boosting immunity, focus, and mood

Yoga for Men = Self Care for Men

Self-care for women is everywhere! Why are women just so much better at it and into it? I’ve heard a lot of explanations, but the one that resonates with me is this: women have to take on caregiver roles more often than men. Therefore, they experience firsthand what happens when Grandma can’t get up and down out of a chair or do her own shopping anymore. This incentivizes women to start self-care earlier and stick to it! I have a group of female students who started with me as new retirees and are still with me, 20 years on. It’s astounding how healthy, active, (and still alive) the women are compared to their husbands. I would say in the last 10 years, we’re finally getting more men into the class.

We Love Men!

I’ll admit it, we love our guys! They bring a different energy, humor, and perspective to the class. We miss them when they’re not around. The cool thing w/ guys is you can really see their progress in more obvious ways. Then the women go home and harp on their husbands that yoga for men is legit and that they should come along to a class. Every now and then, a spouse obliges. I always ask first, “Are you here of your own free will?” Answers vary, but many stay on. I know I’ve got them when they show up, even when their spouses can’t.

Currently, our Wednesday 5:30 PM class has several couples and tends to hover around 50% men.  Men who golf should try the North Oaks Golf Club Monday 9:15 AM class! 

Yoga for Your Brain: Tone your nervous system with YogaHotDish

Yoga for your brain mascot

Your Brain on Yoga

The case for yoga as a physical exercise is well made, but lately, neuroscientists are growing increasingly interested in the effects of yoga on brain health, or, yoga for your brain. See the NIH’s (National Institute of Health) systematic review of the current literature here. This is a summary from the NIH website: 

“Collectively, the studies demonstrate a positive effect of yoga practice on the structure and/or function of the hippocampus, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex and brain networks including the default mode network (DMN). The studies offer promising early evidence that behavioral interventions like yoga may hold promise to mitigate age-related and neurodegenerative declines as many of the regions identified are known to demonstrate significant age-related atrophy.”

 

It should be noted, however, that the type of yoga being researched is a more mindfulness-based approach than what may be available at your local gym. 

WHAT DOES YOGA FOR YOUR BRAIN LOOK LIKE? 

It’s not fast flow with music and mirrors. Those classes were really designed as cardio workouts. They resulted when Eastern Yoga collided with the Calfornia fitness scene in the 80’s and 90’s. That said, cardio is FANTASTIC for your brain, and you should definitely not skimp on cardio, but you don’t want to speed up and complicate yoga to the point where it’s no longer a mindfulness practice. That said, you don’t have to choose between yoga for your booty and yoga for your brain. You may have to find an alternative cardio though– or just practice more than one style!

Did you know an advanced yoga practitioner may only be breathing  around SIX breaths/minute?  There is an intense level of focus on that breath: how it sounds, how and where it moves through the body; hence, the breath is your playlist and music only detracts.  Slow deep breathing keeps the body in a parasympathetic state (“rest and digest”) and steers clear of a sympathetic state “fight or flight”) –even in the difficult poses. It’s in the sympathetic state that healing can happen. 

What we’re talking about is more “meditation in motion” –think Tai Chi, but with yoga poses. Sometimes known as “relaxed exertion” it puts the breaks on chronic stress that can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression/anxiety, and yes, brain degeneration. Your brain on yoga is a kind of “deglazing” of stress build-up in your body and brain  (cortisol, adrenaline, etc) to relieve longheld tension and negativity for better mood, cognition, and immune response.

NOT TYPICAL LEFT-BRAIN

While choreographed vinyasa flow sequences engage the left brain, meditation-in-motion activates the increasingly marginalized right brain (thanks technology) and gives the left brain a rest. That way, when you do need to plan, judge, sequence, and analyze, the “computer part” of your mind is fresh. Productivity and creativity often spike after mindfulness-based practices. That’s why yoga classes are full of authors, artists, and creators of all stripes. 

Allowing the right brain to come to the forefront enables you to hit the “pause” button and be free from the tyranny of linear time, to-do lists, other people’s problems, and typical left-brain chatter. When activated, you feel little urgency and life’s problems mysteriously vanish into the background. 

FEEL GREAT FROM YOUR FIRST CLASS

You shouldn’t have to wait until after class to feel great; you should feel great in class, from the first time you attend. It’s shocking to me how stressful our culture makes working out: clipboards, BMI calculations, objectives, and outfits –uff dah!  

We practice relaxed exertion to reduce built-up stress–and to avoid creating more! While your muscles will be challenged at first, yoga for your brain gives you time in between poses to center, breath, and just experience being in your body. This “integration” period is where you make all those neuroplasticity gains. 

Why not consider downshifting your exercise a bit to an “innercise” model and you’ll be set for better overall wellness and less chance of injury? You’ll also capture the benefits of your brain on yoga–something you can’t do struggling to keep up in a room full of music and mirrors. 

Health is wealth

 

Disher and “Top Doc” Carrie Terrell on Going vs. Not Going to Yoga

When I went to yoga versus when I skipped yoga

Jan 13, 2022

 

Ok, I admit I’m a yoga convert and dedicant. It’s been 22 years since I went to my first community class in a random Minneapolis abandoned school gym thinking I would be told I was too fat to join. Yes, it changed my life, my brain, my outlook. I’m still fat, but healthily so, and
my tendency towards personality disorder essentially obliterated. But I still fall off my ownwagon. And there’s no need – now that my teachers have youtube videos or zoom options there are really no excuses. As my classes reopen to in-person I remember the great joy of sharing the practice with others but still — sometimes I don’t go.

When I do yoga, regularly, my life is concentrically brighter. I look and feel better in my clothes. I stand straighter. My neck is longer. My low back doesn’t hurt. I can easily squat and bend down to pick up the bobby pin under the radiator, the drifting ziplock baggie, the escaping dust bunny. I feel strong. I am strong – I can do the things strong people do. If I do sit in front of a screen I am mindful of my body. I sit in poses rather than slouching. I don’t nibble incessantly. I choose how I am spending my time rather than letting time slip away. The stress of my frontline healthcare worker job doesn’t erode my desire to work and serve. I sleep better. I can meditate and sit quietly and feel safe and secure. I remember I don’t have to do in order to be. I know that
nothing is permanent, finished, perfect, nor complete and that is ok. Not just ok, but I become joyfully content with the impermanence/imperfection.

When I skip yoga – it compounds like bad interest on a credit card. I beat myself up (not yogic), I eat to console (not yogic), I pretend to compensate with a walk (ok, not horrible), I get the laundry/cleaning/emails/projects done (maybe). I ache, I cannot bend in the ways I’ve become accustomed, it feels like a stretch when I turn to check the lane beside me, I sleep poorly with my
shoulders jammed up into my ears, I feel frumpy. I am restless, discontent, malcontent, and “just want things to be done/clean/perfect/up to par.” My work makes me depressed, burned out, and seek retirement. I’m disagreeable, irritated (ok, sometimes downright mean), judgmental. I forget to stay on my own mat. I don’t even try to meditate.

In our house, we are fond of saying, “I want to have gone to yoga,” when we are debating going or not – even if going means heading into the yoga room with the ipad. Yes, I have many other things to do. Yes, I work a lot of hours and that does limit when and how I can go. Yes, I cannot turn off my brain reminding me of all these things. Yet, I know, deep inside if I go I will be happy I went. In gratitude to my teachers who are there, waiting, expecting, knowing I’ll come.
Carrie Ann Terrell, MD, FACOG

 

Yoga-Travel-Transform. Repeat.

YogaHotDish is heading in a new direction…well, not really new, but let’s say clearer. For the last 5 years, YogaHotDish has been offering annual “retreats.” From the get-go, they weren’t your typical yoga-all-day, howl-at-the-moon, vegan meals-with-designer-water retreats. No offense to all the other retreats, but that’s just not the kind of thing HotDishers want. It’s not a yoga 24/7 situation. Our first was to Phoenix, AZ, staying on the Thunderbird Global School of Management campus (known for its Pub and International clientele). Since then, we have been to Palm Springs twice and Costa Rica with two villas overlooking the Pacific right before Covid put the kibosh on life as we know it.

BYE-BYE BRICKS-AND-MORTAR

It dawns on me that, in fact, quite a few lessons have been learned taking YogaHotDish on the road to a variety of destinations and properties--never the same one twice. I make all the arrangements, curate the participants, run the yoga while Mr. HotDish plays chef, bartender, and even bouncer in a pinch. I supposed you could say we’ve been essentially running B&Bs in all these places, just without owning the bricks-and-mortar. Wait a minute! Might it be kind of like running a yoga studio…without a studio?

We painstakingly choose a destination, find a property, get our boots on the ground, get all the shopping done, set up for yoga, liase w/ the locals, and have hopefully have cocktails ready when you arrive. We keep it all going for about a week: 2 meals (breakfast and dinner, drinks, snacks), a daily 2-hr yoga practice, and a well-vetted list of potential activities, guides, and outings. We know who’s arriving when, who might be up for a roommate and/or uber buddy, and who’s interested in what. I also know who’s rehabbing a sprained ankle and who might need some space due to a family or work situation back home.

PLANNED SPONTANEITY

I think Mr. HotDish and I have struck a good balance between providing just enough “infrastructure,” a scaffolding of sorts, but not so much as to kill the spontaneity. Be it group exercise or group travel, the danger is things coalesce around what’s easiest to shepherd a group through, not what’s ideal for the individuals in the group. You see this play out in package tours. I actually have a recurring nightmare where I’m on a tour of Tokyo walking past “Cool Japan” en route to yet another temple, guided by Minnie Mouse. As is evident in Japan (more so than other destinations) tour companies don’t necessarily know what visitors want to see and experience; or, they’re so enmeshed in relationships with the owners of various “attractions,” they don’t do much off the beaten path (read: free).

Ask someone just back from package travel, “how was your trip,” and they say things like “fine,” or “great,” but rarely elaborate. That’s because there isn’t much in the way of a story to tell: the package promises you X,Y,Z over days A,B,C. You see pretty much everything as expected, tick the boxes and come home. If anything spontaneous happens, it’s usually a setback: lost luggage, canceled flight, etc. Your traveling companions are people who like things set and sorted; they take comfort in itineraries and relax knowing they don’t have to make decisions. They may or may not bother to get to know others in the group; this makes sense though, as, beyond the destination, there may be little affinity between group members.

That’s all fine, but we prefer a paradigm we call “Planned Spontaneity.” Think of it as the difference between singing karaoke and being part of a jazz ensemble. First, you “musicians” are vetted. You all have yoga in common; and not just any random style, but YogaHotDish’s Smarter Yoga for Better Living. That one tagline defines values and aspirations that are pretty unique and not-so-easy to come by on the Internet Wild West.

We know we’re dealing with intelligent, often well-traveled, capable people, which is why we wouldn’t dream of “inflicting” our agenda onto the entire group. Rather, we “group source” a variety of outings in which people may or may not participate. Sitting down as a group over meals, making plans, decisions, etc. kicks off a whole bunch of small-group dynamics (i.e. forming and storming). Deciding and coordinating give way to a kind of cooperation and cohesion you can’t get without working together. Conversations continue, convening in the hot tub or loading the dishwasher. Friendships are formed and connections are made that often extend well beyond the trip. Strangers on one trip may end up as roommates on another. This is yoga-off-the-mat at its finest.

In short, you don’t just sign up for an experience, you become one of the authors of the experience! This isn’t so unlike YogaHotDish classes. I learned early on I couldn’t overplan–rookie mistake. Sometimes people show up who you weren’t planning on; or, a regular mentions she has a “tweaky shoulder” on a given day. So much for the upper-body intensive I had planned. It’s more like cooking w/ o a recipe w/ the ingredients you find in the fridge. That’s Mr. HotDish’s specialty when it comes to food; perhaps it’s mine when it comes to yoga.

IT’S ABOUT TRANSFORMATION

From Day 1, Kripalu has been known as “The Yoga of Transformation.” I think that’s one of the things that drew me to it in the first place. From my time in Asia, I knew there was a “work-in” element to the practice that no other form of working out offered. I found that work-in quality of classical yoga to be just the antidote to a lifetime of Midwest perfectionism that was no longer serving me as an entrepreneur and new mom in Singapore.

While “hanging on for dear life” may be a winning strategy back home, entrenched in your comfort zone, the only thing that works abroad is flinging yourself into the current; you stop clinging and jump in with both feet, toddler and all! The only way you can start paddling is to “let go for dear life!” Not everyone does it by the way. The world is full of well-traveled unworldly people who’ve lived/traveled everywhere but grown little in their experiences–you can usually find them at The American Club bar, starting at noon, if not before!

It’s hard for me to imagine two more transformative things on earth than yoga and travel. With some Covid reflection time, I see how elegantly they intertwine and complement each other. I also see how, in addition to the current of life positioning me to become a yoga teacher, it was also shunting us toward sharing our passion for a unique kind of travel.

Mr. HotDish and I used to joke how “it’s like we’re running a B&B,” back during our odyssey of global living that took us twice to Singapore, twice to London, and eventually Cape Cod. We would host friends (often Tbirds), for at least a couple weekends each month. We’d turn over our beach house on the Cape after friends left Monday for the next batch coming in Thursday or Friday. In between, someone might get some “actual work” done.

It’s so Covid-clear to me now that all of that was preparation. There’s a skill set to hosting people and Joe, in particular, has been cultivating it for a long time–about as long as I’ve been a yoga teacher. He takes notes as he watches the Saturday AM cooking shows on PBS (sorry Sat Zoom had to go), keeps up with his French Inv. Banker recipe swaps and unleashes some of his fancy country-risk assessment tools on potential destinations.

With this newfound Covid clarity, I also realize I’ve, or I should say “we’ve” outgrown the name YogaHotDish. It’s kind of like noticing one of your kids’ pair of jeans is an inch too short–when did that happen you wonder?

YogaHotDish was cute and local, a great name for a not-so-serious part-time yoga teacher. It just doesn’t capture what we are now though. Sure, it’s still an eclectic mix of yoga, but it’s grown up a little more and gained confidence along with a greater global footprint. We’re in the travel-yoga-transformation business and have a much bigger reach beyond Minnesota, with trips in the works to Japan and Vietnam. We have grown our cast of characters to include local guides who know us, know our students, know our mindset.

So please stay tuned for some exciting announcements, a name change, maybe a new website, etc. Oh, it’s Ok, you can still call me “HotDish” –I won’t mind 🙂

Small Business Saturday: High time to decorporatize yoga!

McYoga | this is so crass. | jpmatth | Flickr

How’d we get here: $100 + yoga pants (guilty), gymnastical poses, pyramid-scheme teacher trainings, #instayoga?

Is there even such a thing anymore as practicing yoga alone in a quiet room? If there’s not a post w/ a dozen hashtags, did a yoga practice even occur?

We’re in a mess, and “Big Yoga” (CorePower, Lifetime, Equinox) has a lot of explaining to do. Yoga used to be more about living in the world and being a good person, a wellness and longevity philosophy for the ages. It was for seekers, in search of a higher “true self”: peeling back the layers, letting go of the bullshit–not creating more of it!

Somehow making sense of the messiness of human existence got sanitized, made over, and ultimately merchandized, often by investors who knew next to nothing about it. An entire 40 billion-dollar industry sprung up with magazines, clothing, props, mats, and more. While some of the “schools of lineage” back to India attempted to enforce teaching standards a few decades ago under the banner of the Yoga Alliance, they too got swept away by the commercial tsunami. The best way to grow the Yoga Alliance was to certify more programs, more instructors, more-more-more!

Yet, at its heart, yoga is a practice of minimizing, seeing the facades and props of life (from yoga blocks to BMWs) for what they are: things to hold ourselves up in a dog-eat-down-dog world. The lucky ones realize this sooner rather than later. They stop looking for meaning in acquisition.

It’s no wonder so many “successful” people are drawn to yoga: they “have it all,” yet still feel a void. They’ve lost track of the simple pleasures in life and perhaps even of themselves along the way. So much focus on the veneer reduces awareness of what’s real. I can’t tell you the number of times “busy and important” people have walked right by–even through–one of my outdoor yoga classes without so much as lowering their voices. They probably can’t understand why anyone would want to sit quietly and see no value in it. Surely what we’re doing can’t be important than their conversation about the upcoming kitchen remodel.

Awareness begins with maybe just one breath in one class: for the first time, a subtler plane of existence is noticed, if just for a few seconds. Maybe there’s a glimpse of something bigger that’s new on one hand, eternal on the other. That glimpse somehow feels so peaceful and even awe-inspiring, all the other stuff–the props of life–seem to melt away into insignificance.

Chances are that little peek didn’t happen during “flying crow” or “scorpion” with new-age-y music blaring. Likely it was during a quiet interlude, in a less challenging pose, or savasana at the end. Those are the moments when seekers are born! Sramana is a Sanskrit word for “seeker,” but implies a level of energy that makes “striver” a better translation.

For a practice that requires no equipment, was based on a simple mentorship between teacher and student,, has a code of ethics (non-stealing, non-violence, non-lying to name a few) how’d we end up with 30-person classes in a roomful of mirrors, following someone who barely knows us and is in it to “get paid to work out?” (Big Yoga’s go-to justification for minuscule salaries).

Trust me w/ 20 yrs experience and a top teaching credential: if the teacher is up in front getting a workout, you’re in a group exercise class with a yoga theme, not an actual yoga class.

The good news: it seems Covid made even mainstream yoga a bit more introspective. People are re-evaluating what yoga is and even what the term should mean. Big Yoga like LifeTime and CorePower may not be able to continue controlling the conversation. New voices have emerged and they’re getting louder: #decolonizeyoga #accessibleyoga #authenticyoga #yamasniyamas –even in the most superficial and unlikeliest of places…social media.

My mission from the beginning of YogaHotDish, in 2001 (before hashtags), was #decorporatizeyoga. Even back then, I could tell that the gyms offering yoga had their definitions askew, reducing the practice to exercises. I had just returned from studying yoga in Singapore. My teacher was in her 60’s back then, wore the same white polo and blue sweat pants, was a Buddhist who studied in India. Nothing I saw happening in the US gyms had any resemblance to the transformational practice I had experienced abroad.

Though I figured I didn’t have near the life experience necessary in my 30’s and a new Mom, I decided to become a yoga teacher because I couldn’t find a class anywhere. I created a student-focused business w/o any “layer” of management (read: politics, profiteering, pettiness) between me and my students.

If you’d like to show up to a class and find out what “Small Yoga” has to offer you, please do. Some people even do both “Big” and “Small” yoga. After all, yoga is about finding balance, dancing between the poles of opposites, sitting in contradiction. Yes, you can do Yoga Sculpt one day and YogaHotDish the next. What an adventure that would be!

We likely won’t ever really #decorporatizeyoga because convenience is a necessity in our culture. Heck, I just joined LifeTime Fitness for the Winter because I need a place to do cardio, a bit of weight lifting/rehab to keep things in check –consider it my “workout office.” I like the fact that I can take a nice long shower there and no one is going to knock on the door shouting so-and-so is on the phone and do I want to take the call. No phones at the dinner table OR in the shower, how’s that for a rule to live by?

Frankly, the Lifetime staff are rather pleasant and gregarious, rare in these parts come Winter. Mind you, I live in a neighborhood where pedestrians have to be directed by the HOA to wave. The nice kid who checked me in for the first time noticed the “yoga” in my email address and said, “Oh, man you’re gonna love our yoga classes.” I deflected, “Is that a PopTart you’re eating–maple and brown sugar perhaps?” He laughed nervously, “Yeah, I guess it’s the Breakfast of Champions.” I laughed too, and said, “I haven’t seen one since I was ten.”

A YogaHotDish Travelogue by Guest Blogger Diana Grace

One of my earliest memories of what yoga was all about was the “Maggie” show on PBS in the 1970s.  Maggie Lettvin hosted a yoga program called Maggie and The Beautiful Machine.

As a very young girl, I would watch Mom do poses along with this TV program. Maggie seemed a very calm and kind person, which I appreciated as a quiet child.

Growing up as an unathletic kid, I was somewhat awkward, quite shy, and not physically flexible. Memories include stressful kickball games in elementary school and junior high soccer (I was the only kid during sitting leg stretches who was not able to reach to their feet. I hardly made it to my knees.) Why do people assume if you are tall and slender that you are automatically flexible and bendy? Wrong!

Gym class was never fun for a reserved, artistic kid like me. Swimming lessons took all the fun out of summer mornings. If memory serves, I took beginners’ swimming at least twice and was the tallest and oldest kid in the class. Fun times! However, my short-lived ballet classes were not too terrible – I got to take private lessons with just me and my best friend. Luckily our ballet instructor put up with two gangly, clumsy teens very sweetly. 

As an adult, walking (and very occasional aerobic exercises like Jane Fonda workouts) was my main physical activity. After a divorce, I did sign up for regular weight training sessions and found I enjoyed it (what?) and had great results. It did help my flexibility somewhat but most importantly was a huge help psychologically as well as physically.  I discovered that exercising the body could simultaneously exorcise some of my mental demons. I eventually looked forward to time at the gym as a welcome destressing session. 

Shaila’s class was my first and only yoga class. After my success with weight training, I went online to search for yoga classes nearby, and boy did I hit the jackpot with finding Yoga Hotdish. NO mirrors, music, or overdosing on “woo-woo” spiritualism (although I do like a bit of that). Also, no fast-paced “vinyasa flow,” which appeared to be all the rage but didn’t seem the best choice for the over-40 crowd, or anyone else for that matter. When it comes to yoga, one size (or type of yoga) does not fit all. Shaila’s class was just yoga, meditation, and self-acceptance – or at least the beginnings of it. Plus, plenty of pose modification for those who needed help due to poor flexibility, lousy posture, balance issues, injury, illness, or just having the wrong kind of arm socket/hip socket/foot shape, etc. That means it covers just about everybody!

Did I also mention breathing? I learned I was a very shallow breather. Who knew? Bringing focus to my breath was an eye-opener and brought me welcome calmness and peace. Breathing better also seemed to help improve my skin and general circulation. Breath is one thing we take for granted. I like that Shaila reminds her students many times throughout class to “breathe.” Focusing on one’s breath can help with balance, meditation, and holding a pose. 

I also love that we try and do outdoor yoga as much as possible, which is not always easy in Minnesota! I used to be more “indoorsy,” but now I realize that I get so much peace and healing from being in nature. It greatly helps to get away from the busy world and reconnect with the earth.

Over the past ten years attending Shaila’s class, I have had my ups and downs. Some years I participated at least twice a week and saw great results with increased strength, better balance, toning, and flexibility. In recent years I struggled to get myself to yoga class, but I did manage to make a ten-minute stretching session before bed a somewhat regular occurrence. Some nights it is just child’s pose, cat/cow pose, balancing table pose, and sphinx pose with hopefully a little spinal twist at the end. 

The most surprising and somewhat unsettling event that happened to me during a yoga class at least a couple of times was what Shaila describes as “stuff coming up from the basement.”

What this means is that you experience deep emotions that seem to come out of nowhere. They can be happy, sad, confusing, but all they are trying to do is tell you something. Maybe it is just your body thanking you for paying attention to its needs. The mind-body connection is real. Those subtle (or not so subtle) body aches and pains are messengers. Sometimes emotions come because you are feeling (and finally paying attention to) the need for self-love and acceptance. Not for the person you want to be in the future when you fix this and that, but for the soul you are right at this moment.

I must admit that this past year was a particular challenge due to family obligations, career upheaval, political and social unrest, as well as a “little” virus that took over the world. It’s been one heck of a wake-up call for many and has been a good excuse to re-examine health and lifestyle choices.

I am so thankful to have found yoga and Shaila’s class for so many reasons, but I think my favorite is that I’ve learned to accept imperfection. Occasionally I have come to class with a migraine or bad back. At those times, I only do a sitting meditation and maybe a few easy poses with more emphasis on breathing, healing, and being kind and loving to myself

No matter what, I come to the mat with whatever version of me is available that day. It may not always look great or feel great, but that is of very little importance. I just show up and let my body and breath guide me to listen to the messages they try to provide.

Thank you for your service: YogaHotDish offers free yoga to teens!

While many of us are putting Covid in the rearview mirror, some are only beginning to pick up the pieces. Surely, if you lost a loved one, the cruel reminder of Covid will be forever with you. You have our heartfelt condolences. It was a terrible way to leave the world. Of course, if you are a doctor or essential worker, you may have lingering PTSD that doesn’t resolve in a nice tidy fashion on the day we declare we’re Covid-free. I know I have a new respect for the cashiers, delivery personnel, and not only docs but the support staff that keep providers going! 

I am now realizing however there is a large swath of the population who have been devastated by Covid who are getting short shrift in the hero department: teens.  They were asked to put the most intensely developmental phases of their lives on hold for over a year–for a disease that posed little to no danger to them.  It was a huge “ask” for a group in the most self-absorbed period of their lives (we hope anyway).  

If you’ve been paying attention to the news or happen to parent these creatures, you are perhaps seeing and experiencing various degrees of “fall out,” from mild to nuclear.  I for one, fear it’s the tip of a very large iceberg, just starting to reveal itself in the midst of our summer frolic and “revenge travel.”

Welcome to The New Pandemic: a potentially fatal cocktail of teenage anxiety, depression, and addiction. A recent June 2021 New York Times article highlights CDC data showing visits to the ER for suspected suicide attempts were up 51% for girls ages 12-17 in the 4 weeks ending March 20, 2020 over the same period in 2019 (boys remained stable). The rate began rising in the summer of 2020. This report “comes on the heels of other recent research that suggested higher rates of mental health problems among teenagers, including self-harm, suicide attempts, and suicidal ideation, which some experts worry could be related to stressors from the pandemic.”

Seriously? Some “experts worry it might be Covid-related?” OK, those experts must not be parents of affected children. Parents know it’s related and are worried about the actual harm to their kids! The above numbers are all the more concerning in light of the fact that “distance learning” continued for an additional year or longer beyond the aforementioned stats and is coming back to haunt these kids now–in summer school!

So, while adults are happy to shed the masks, get back to a more normal work environment, take a holiday, these kids are waking up to what can only be described as one bad Covid hangover: semesters of incompletes to the point there is no GPA to worry about, missed major milestones from proms to passing the driver’s license test. Then we have the kids who lost loved-ones due to Covid or feared for the safety of their essential worker parents.

Did you know driver’s ed went online, 3 hours/day during the pandemic in the midst of distance learning? Few could handle another 3 hours/day. There is a whole crop of kids who would normally be driving themselves to work and activities this summer but can’t. Maybe that’s why businesses that rely on teenage help can’t find any? Many parents aren’t letting their kids get their licenses until they get caught up in school and/or develop more maturity and responsibility. If anything, they see their kids as regressing over the pandemic.

In short, “the kids are NOT alright.” They found that the most reliable dopamine hits weren’t in cultivating true friendships, working hard, and achieving goals –but rather on the internet casino of gaming and social media. The problem there though is, in addition to dopamine, they got bursts of stress hormones like cortisol too.

YouTube gaming head Ryan Wyatt gleefully shared that users on his platform watched 100 billion hours of gaming content in 2020 — that’s double the number of hours watched in 2018. Minecraft was the winner by a landslide with more than 200 billion views. Grand theft auto had 70 billion views–wonder why carjackings by teenagers are up?(Source: NikoPartners LLC ).

So who were the losers? Kids–education, family dynamics, exercise, time spent outdoors. You know these games are addictive by design, right? The pavlovian reinforcement model used in casinos is no match for the squishy teenage brain whose judgment has yet to be hard-wired in.

So what are kids who are hopelessly behind in school, can’t drive, out of shape, depressed, anxious, addicted to the internet (among other things) supposed to do? Well, many of them are contemplating dropping out of school. These are not just the “marginal kids” either. They’re the good kids–the jocks, the geeks–all sorts. Scholarship candidates with high GPA’s pre-pandemic are having to settle for community college or just taking a year off to decompress. Kids who were headed for community college aren’t sure they can ever get through high school at this rate. They can’t make up the work in the “self-directed online” summer school model–the same approach that landed them in this labyrinth of “learned helplessness” in the first place.

They’re even being required to wear masks on the bus for summer school. So in a district touting its STEM program, we have vaccinated drivers and mostly, if not all, vaccinated kids sitting on a bus with the windows open and masks. Alrighty then.

So too bad but, “I’m not raising teens now so it’s not my problem,” you say. Why should you care? Minnesota-based Immunologist (PhD, JD) Hugh McTavish presents an interesting take on the Covid numbers: for every ONE life saved from Covid, 360 children had their education, health, wellbeing, and futures upended. If you’re an at-risk/65+ adult or just an adult with at-risk or 65+ loved ones, you owe these kids some gratitude and understanding.

In his book, Covid Lockdown Insanity, Dr. McTavish raises the age-old question pondered everywhere from Ancient Greece to Freshman Philosophy: did our actions serve “the greater good.” In fact, what is the “greater good” anyway? Lives lost, lifespan gained? Does “quality of life” matter, or is it just longevity?

An interesting argument starts to take shape as Dr. McTavish calculates the lockdowns saved about 200,000 lives. He then points out the average life span “left” for each Covid death averted was roughly 4 years. In other words, those that perished had about 4 years of lifespan left (on average people!). He then makes a bold jump and tries to quantify “severe depression” in terms of “lost years.” If you’ve ever experienced severe depression or lived with someone who has, you probably think this isn’t a huge stretch. If you haven’t, I can’t blame you for being skeptical.

The result is a birdseye view of Covid in terms of “person-years” lost vs. saved. The math goes something like this: Assuming 200,000 deaths averted with an average remaining lifespan for 4 years = 800,000 “person-years saved”

vs.

68,000 “deaths of despair” which include increased suicides and deaths by drug overdose, alcohol abuse. Those 68,000

are younger w/ an average remaining lifespan of 38 years = 2.58 million “person-years lost.”

That works out to 3 times more “person-years of life lost” due to “deaths of despair” than person-years saved. I’m not saying the above is “the right way” to look at the numbers but it is one way.

It drives home how much our young people sacrificed for their elders, their teachers, those at risk due to pre-existing conditions. The public school kids would’ve been alright–they could’ve clipped along in person as exemplified and documented in the country reports from Europe showing classroom spread was low even when community spread was high.

Of course in the early days, this was an unknown, but by early 2021, as teachers were getting vaccinated (with a high degree of protection within weeks after the first dose), the reports from Europe were out. A Spring semester of normalcy may have brought back many of these kids from “the brink.” Neighboring Wisconsin public schools are case-in-point as well as the numerous Minnesota private schools that remained in-person throughout. Hats off to their mission-driven teachers and administrators. Those kids will be rewarded as they far outpace their peers in every imaginable metric going forward. Believe me, the distance learning kids are well aware they can’t compete and so many have given up; and, are not only mourning the loss of the past year and a half but of their futures as well.

What you do need to know if you don’t have kids or aren’t experiencing the fallout firsthand: there is trauma everywhere–don’t underestimate based on their “chill” demeanors. Many of these kids are in PTSD situations. When children are traumatized, it cuts deeper for longer. In the trauma field, it’s called “mortal wounding” with consequences that reverberate far into the future as the kids don’t have the resources to process the trauma in real-time. These kids need help, support, mentoring, and likely some tough love to pick up the pieces. They need to learn other methods of self-care and self-soothing beyond addictive social media, gaming, and substance abuse. They also need to know society cares about them and will help them going forward– a lot of them have lost faith in their schools, teachers, administrations and school boards. Engage them in conversation and you’ll be shocked by the cynicism of these young citizens!

I can’t complain about something without at least offering some small fix. That’s why I’ll gladly teach any teen who shows up for any YogaHotDish class for free. It’s a small thing, but it’s all I have for now. Please fill out a contact form to RSVP so I know I’ll have room. And yes, they’re welcome to bring a friend–I recommend it.

GOAT YOGA–Yoga with GOATS? Not quite.

The TB12 Method | Book by Tom Brady | Official Publisher ...

Those of us of a certain age are admittedly gloating over The GOAT’s win over The Kid in Super Bowl 55. Not just a win, but a decisive one at that!

Now, I don’t want to argue football; I have a husband for that. That same husband switched me on to a book called “The TB 12 Method” a few years ago. Around the same time, I stumbled upon a workshop in Santa Barbara (as I often do) extolling the virtues and techniques of combining resistance work with yoga. It was practice-changing, eye-opening, and joint saving!

Flexibilty and Strength Training vs. Pliability

Tom Brady (TB) takes an entire chapter of his book to extoll the virtues of pliability training over strength training + some stretching. Why? He is trying to basically de-program multiple generations of football players and fans out of their fixed mindsets and conventional thinking.

Knowing the crowd, I’m not sure 30 pages is enough! I still see so much conventional thinking in my son’s football experience over the years ( How many kids can possibly sprain their ankles in one game?). My husband learned first hand the dangers of trying to question conventional “wisdom.” In spite of getting a D-1 full ride and his brief stint for the Buffalo Bills and an amazing network around the country of his colleagues now coaching their own kids, his input wasn’t welcomed by most of our local high school parents, eager to apply the same methodology they learned in their high school programs. It’s risky for me to even write this I suppose, but, I’ll take my chances…they don’t seem like the yoga blog types. (Please do feel free to surprise me though).

If you come to class, you know a lot about pliability already. Long story short, or perhaps I should say, “short story long,” because the gist is, you want longer, pliable muscles that are better lubricated and do a better job of distributing load over a broader area of fibers. Short, defined, “cut” or “ripped” muscles look great, but they’re more prone to injury, full stop. Moreover, they don’t contain the qualities most necessary to succeed on the field in most positions, or, in life. They are the result of a lot of “hard” work, but not smart work. The muscles themselves aren’t as intelligent or as responsive as they could be, and that’s what TB and his trainer Alex started to realize. Keep in mind, the average length of an NFL career is 3.3 years, so let’s give the ol’ GOAT a listen!

What is pliability anyway? Can’t I just stretch out after strength training?

Pliability as a principle is very yogic as it puts an emphasis on finding the right balance for your body, your sport, your life, and your practice/workouts. It’s not about the “maximal” training athletes do in their teens and twenties as in, “Dude, I maxed out on 225 for bench.” Kids get away w/ a certain amount of this kind of stuff because their muscles still have some of the natural pliability retained from childhood. We’re all born pliable, but it diminishes over time. Don’t believe it? Teach kids’ yoga for ten minutes.

In TB’s case, he defines pliability as “the daily lengthening and softening of muscles” along with “targeted deep-force muscle work.” It’s a kind of pressure point massage and lengthening of the tissue, done by a trainer in TB’s case, while TB contracts that tissue in intervals–it’s not the massage you had on vacation, let’s put it that way!

TB and his trainer are essentially contracting and stretching the muscle at the same time which makes for a smarter, better firing muscle and less damage, recovery time, or pain. A regimen of lifting weights/strength training with a bit of stretching afterwards separates the two tasks, as though muscles are binary and either in a fully off/on position. But to function optimally, muscles have to be more on a “dimmer switch” and have a kind of intelligence as to when to engage and how much–makes sense doesn’t it? If not, you may need the 30 pages so get the book!

Good for Tom, but I’m not married to Giselle and I don’t have a trainer!

Well, I suppose that’s why you can buy The TB 12 Method and drop about $300 on the gear to try and mimic the effects our lucky-duck QB gets daily–from his trainer that is 😉

Or, you could take a classical yoga practice, heavy on lengthening muscle; and, couple it with pose-specific techniques to contract the tissue at the same time. In other words, you could try a yoga practice that involves some eccentric and resistance stretching within your own unique parameters. I mean, while the TB12 system is unique and certainly patented, the kind of stretching it promotes has been around a long time and is starting to show up in the yoga world. What’s unique in the yoga world is that it doesn’t make this big assumption or put a huge priority on flexibility–no over-heated rooms or over-zealous instructors. You don’t want to sacrifice the joints and soft tissue.

Even if you’re a dude who hasn’t touched his toes in a while, you’ll find “pliability yoga” a lot more conducive for your body type and safer than a conventional yoga class. You may not be meant to touch your toes and you may not need to. Let’s find your “optimal” for longevity so you can keep doing all the other non-yoga stuff you love!

If you look at TB, he’s pretty long and lean–a strike against him in his draft report which explains him being the 199th pick!

Dear Long COVID Suffers: You Are Not Alone!

Dear Long Covid Suffers, While you may feel alone, please know that you have much in common with sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) which has been around for decades. Many of us attribute our CFS to a preceding viral infection, in my case, pneumonia.  You may find the description of CFS similar to your Long Covid symptoms. 

According to the Mayo Clinic Website (note the comments in bold are mine):

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) is a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months and that can’t be fully explained by an underlying medical condition. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity but doesn’t improve with rest.

Other characteristic symptoms include:

  • Sleep that isn’t refreshing–YES, DAILY!
  • Difficulties with memory, focus, and concentration–YAH!
  • Dizziness that worsens with moving from lying down or sitting to standing —YOU BETCHA!
  • Doctors without answers saying “maybe you’re a little depressed.”

The condition is typically abbreviated as CFS/ME. The most recent term proposed is systemic exertional intolerance disease (SEID). I will stick to CFS/ME.

The cause of CFS/ME is unknown, although there are many theories — ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Some experts believe chronic fatigue syndrome might be triggered by a combination of factors. I suspect a severe case of viral pneumonia in Japan complicated by salmonella on Bali (travel isn’t all glamour ;))

No Tests to Confirm CFS/ME or Long Covid

You may need a variety of medical tests to rule out other health problems that have similar symptoms–and spend all your time, money, and sanity schlepping around from doc to doc, dept to dept. Treatment for CFS/ME focuses on improving symptoms. You will likely be encouraged to take an anti-depressant which feels like insult added to injury. You Long COVID patients have a similar conundrum as you may not have a positive COVID test result to “prove” your Long Haul Covid!

Strength in Numbers 

Suddenly, the news is rife with stories of people suffering from Long COVID who are experiencing many of the same CFS/ME symptoms I’ve struggled to manage for decades. It’s hard to watch: many of them are young, like I was, debilitated by fatigue in their prime on the cusp of great things: careers, marriages, starting a family. Many of these people will end up on disability, as holding down a full-time job may become impossible.

What is “Debilitating Fatigue”? 

The kind of fatigue that prevents you from hopping  a train to  see the finals at Wimbledon. It’s a kind of tired that leaves you stranded in the dairy aisle because you don’t know how you’re going to carry the milk all the way to the front of the store and back to your car. If you do push through it, you know it will mean a nap once you get home. It’s the kind of fatigue that seems so irrational to friends and family, they start to lose their grip right along with you. You’re forced to say “no” to so much that pretty soon the invitations stop coming altogether.

One-Two Million Americans suffer from CFS/ME

According to the article “The Tragedy of the Post-COVID Long Haulers'” (Health.Harvard.edu) that number could double in the next two years due to the COVID “Long Haulers” / “Long Haul COVID” sufferers. Trust me when I say, our healthcare system IS NOT ready for this. My heart breaks knowing so little has been accomplished on the CFS/ME front in the past decades and the frustrations the afflicted will face. 

Show Me the Progress! 

Many CFS/SE sufferers are women and that is the case for Long Covid as well. All the Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine docs I saw were men. What they had in common: terrible listeners.  Secondly, CFS/ME patients are lousy advocates. Why? They’re TOO TIRED!  It may take half a day to get ready for an appointment and another half day’s nap to recover. All that to hear the same BS and see the same lab-coat shoulder shrugs.

In one of my final appointments, the doc tried to write me a script for Prozac after 5 mins. My husband started cross-examining: “What’s the “end game”–is she on it forever? Why do you think she’s depressed?” To this day, we’re not sure if we stormed out or were thrown out of his office.  Worse yet, that doctor was on the Board of a CFS Association in Minnesota! What about the people who don’t have a partner to ask the tough questions during appointments?

Luckily, somewhere along the way, when I still had some energy, I had taken a few yoga classes. I found myself in a situation where my energy improved somewhat and I could commit to a weekly yoga class. It became clear to me that I got a hella lot more out of yoga classes than doctor appointments. Slowly, my health improved, albeit in fits and starts.

 “C” in CFS is for “Chronic” 

It never goes away; it’s a condition that has to be “managed.” I basically fired all my doctors and started managing it myself, primarily through yoga–but not just any yoga.

Stay in the Energy Envelope

One of the most frustrating symptoms for a former athlete is post-exercise malaise which is perhaps why experts are starting to refer to it as systemic exertional intolerance (SEID). Luckily my first teacher was a classically trained Yogi and Zen Buddhist in Singapore. She was in her 60’s and no-nonsense. She did a lot of seated meditation and it showed in her approach. She knew that the “exercises” were to be done as meditations, not gymnastical performances. She also paced the class as “relaxed exertion”; fast flow would have kept us too busy in our heads managing choreography. 

Slow the Flow Down

There was plenty of time to phase in and out of the pose, downshift if need be, and integrate between poses. No music or mirrors–she would have disdained such distractions. The point was to reside in your body, not let your mind drift, and most importantly, accept how it was for you that day. No comparisons to last week or last year. You were forced to confront the silence and to deal with the thoughts in your head, the sensations in your body.

In Search of Meditation in Motion

I finally came across a Kripalu teacher on Cape Cod. If you would’ve told me when I could barely shower that I’d enroll in a 1-month residential yoga training of all things yoga from 6 am to 10 pm, I wouldn’t have dared to dream. I became certified in 2001. Confession: there was a break in the afternoon, so I could catch a nap; otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it. Coffee was banned but they had really strong tea.

Lifestyle Change, Lessons Learned

I started teaching yoga full-time and never really went back to my “professional” pre-yoga life. Turns out, CFS/ME had taught me a lot. First and foremost, you have to have a strong purpose, a mission for your life that, against all odds, gets you out of bed in the morning. My first mission was “heal thyself.” Accepting that I’d maybe be lucky to reclaim 80% of my previous energy was a big part of that.

Share the Journey

I’m always trying out the latest “life hacks” to boost my energy and clarity; and, I’ve even invented a few on my own. I stay inside my “energy envelope” as much as possible. I relish sharing what I’ve learned with others, especially those with similar symptoms who might be dealing with anything from Lyme disease to fibromyalgia to Long Haul Covid to general stress and burnout.  I have a lot more patience and empathy for sick people and the difficulties of aging.

Pursue Passions that Energize

Travel has always been my jam. I crave the buzz of being out of my comfort zone–a buzz I used to enjoy as a lifestyle pre-CFS. Now, I get to share some of my favorite destinations with my students on yoga retreats which I plan.  Yes, I do get nervous contemplating how people are entrusting me with their vacations, some of the most important days of their year; but, it’s the good kind of nervous as those wee butterflies keep me energized.

I also treat myself to the occasional trip to Japan to re-immerse myself in the language and re-activate that part of my brain. You just don’t have time to be tired in Tokyo: 30 million people in an energetic vortex where the ancient and futuristic intersect. I throw myself into the mayhem, feed off the flow, and go-go-go. I do “pay” for it though when I return, but to me, it’s worth it. 

Conversely, I’ve learned to protect my energy and avoid things that drain me. I view energy as a finite quantity to be “spent” carefully. Bureaucracy, in-the-box thinking, and unnecessary paperwork are best avoided; so are social-climbers, one-uppers, and fixed mind-setters.  I have come to realize that “busy” and “important” are not the same things. I avoid conversations about errands and to-do lists. There seems to be a uniquely American pastime I term “competitive busyness.” Did you know Europe has a kind of “Slowness Society?” You can check it out in a book called In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, which we could also call “mindful living.”

My purpose now is to use the energy I can muster to make as much of a positive impact on the lives of my students as possible. With so many of us experiencing Long Haul COVID symptoms, I’m eager to help. Happiness for me requires a yoga mat, a library card, and yes, a passport. If you’d ever like to discuss books, travel, or yoga, I’m all ears and will stay awake for that. If you want to learn more about what has and has not worked for me in terms of CFS/ME, exchange information, I’m also happy to oblige. I hope to set up a Zoom practice for CFS/ME/Long Haul COVID soon, so do get in touch via the contact page if that applies to you.

YogaHotDish in the News… Take Back the Night (TBTN) National Shine Your Light Yoga Festival, Dec 12th (ZOOM)

Take Back the Night (TBTN) Shines Light on Sexual Violence with the National Shine Your Light Yoga Festival on December 12th.

Hundreds of yoga studios and fitness centers across the country to hold trauma-informed classes for survivors and their supporters on Shine Your Light Yoga Day 2020, including YogaHotDish of North Oaks and Arden Hills.

YogaHotDish will be offering two trauma-informed ZOOM classes on Saturday, December 12th with all proceeds going to TBTN. Visit www.yogahotdish.com to register. The recommended donation is $12, the normal class price, but you can donate any amount via PayPal/credit card.

YogaHotDish Founder Shaila Cunningham, a twenty-year veteran of the yoga business, has fielded a multitude of requests to do classes for various causes. “I was impressed with TBTN as they took the time to research the kind of yoga I offer and ascertain that it is a good fit with their trauma-informed guidelines.  There are as many kinds of trauma and stress as there are people; that said, we can all use a common set of yoga tools to better wire the body and brain for healing and transformation.” Former Minnesota resident and certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor Libby Wendorf of North Carolina will be facilitating the Noon Zoom class.

Cunningham explains,  “The idea that anyone who has experienced any kind of sexual violence from date rape to domestic abuse can go to www.takebackthenight.org, fill out a contact form and speak to a lawyer within 24 hours is comforting. I imagine a lot of victims just don’t know who to turn to, and I encourage anyone reading this with a college-aged kid to take the time to send the link to them or post it to social media.” 

Since the 1970s, Take Back the Night has been supporting survivors of sexual trauma and domestic abuse. It is the oldest international movement fighting to end sexual violence in all its forms. Formed in 1999, the Take Back the Night Foundation (TBTNF) is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Katie Koestner, the first survivor to speak out nationally and publicly as the victim of “date” (as opposed to “stranger”) rape, brought together activists and long-standing participants in TBTN events to create the foundation. TBTN has reached over 10 million people at 800 colleges and communities across the US and in more than 30 countries with its initiatives and evidence-based educational programming.  

“Katie Koestner is a contemporary of mine and a force of nature; meeting her, if only via Zoom, was inspiring,”  says Cunningham.  “I remember seeing her on the cover of TIME Magazine when I was also in college. It took so much courage to share her story, before date rape was ‘a thing.'”  

The United Nations Population Fund roughly estimates that there has been a 20% rise in intimate partner violence alone around the world since the start of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders. That equates to 15 million additional cases in just the last few months.

Through the National ‘Shine Your Light Yoga Festival 2020’, Take Back the Night hopes to shed light on and strengthen survivors who have all too often been denied justice and silenced behind closed doors.

On December 12th, 2020, TBTN invites communities across the country to show their support and take part in a trauma-informed yoga class at their nearest participating studio or fitness center. The National Shine Your Light Yoga Festival 2020 also includes 8 virtual classes live-streamed throughout the day to accommodate up to 80,000 more participants. All proceeds from the event support TBTN’s programs and initiatives, such as the Respect My Red educational program on healthy relationships.

At a time when our communities are in tremendous need of healing and restoration, trauma-informed yoga offers a powerful opportunity for individuals and communities to come together in a safe, welcoming atmosphere to facilitate recovery. Yoga practice teaches us we cannot always control what happens outside of ourselves or in our immediate environments. However, we can control being mindful of ourselves, our bodies, our breath, our thoughts, and our surroundings. Little by little, with dedicated practice, we can start to truly grasp our inner

strength and connect with others to affect positive social change, one breath at a time.

For more information about the National Shine Your Light Yoga Festival 2020 or TBTNF, please visit the TBTNF website: https://takebackthenight.org. You can also find a list of participating

studios and fitness centers near you at https://takebackthenight.org/yoga.

Making Online Yoga…Yogic!

zoomyoga


After sampling a variety of online yoga offerings, including FB Live, Zoom, and YouTube,  I realize now the challenge for yoga teachers is similar to what it is in any large in-person setting: to make yoga feel like yoga and not just a follow-along, group exercise class. While instructors have to modify the way they teach to make this happen, the question is: what can you do as a student to make your experience more…yogic?


1) Set up a “safe space,” free from interruptions. No phone in the room, period! Close the door if you’re lucky enough to have one and make sure spouses, pets, kids –anyone who needs/demands attention from you is ON THE OTHER SIDE of said door, or better yet–out of the house.  Explain in the nicest possible way that they are “errors” of meditation and that a high level of concentration and internal focus is required for true yoga.  “The deeper states” of meditation are achieved by racking up consecutive moments of concentration. If they come into your space and distract you, you lose your momentum and have to start over. Plus, they need to know and accept that what you’re doing is simply more important than their perceived urgency–OPU–other people’s urgency–has no place in your yoga practice!

1.5) Set “reminders” for several classes a week, even though you don’t plan on doing them all. This is key as we’re losing our sense of linear time which is great while doing yoga, but makes it hard to show up to class. And, don’t let arriving late or having to leave early deter you; the ZOOM format is made for that–enjoy it while it lasts!


2) Have all of your props at the ready.  Keep them in a pile somewhere so you don’t have to reassemble them every time. It’s Murphy’s Law: the one prop you don’t have will end up being the star of the class! If you haven’t “invested” yet in blocks, strap, blanket, or even a bolster, it’s time–what are you waiting for?


3) Set up your screen so the instructor has a fairly good view of you in both floor and standing poses when doing a live class. I have my laptop on a block for the floor and move it to a shelf or plant stand for standing poses. Figure it out ahead of time! If the instructor never leaves his/her mat to “check” on or interact with students, consider it a red flag.


4) Try not to make your screen your focal point!!!!! This may be the most important piece of advice. Eyes glued to a screen isn’t yoga–sorry. Set up focal points above or around your screen: a plant, a picture, a window. Try not to have your screen directly in front of you.  Use it as a visual reference as little as possible. Try to follow the verbal instructions first and use the screen in small doses for verification.  Do as much w/ your eyes CLOSED as possible! 


5) Finally, this for people who don’t come to YogaHotDish classes: It’s important that you assess the difference in body types between yours and that of the presenter. This is where visually following along and trying to mimic each and every movement lands people in Physical Therapy. 

First, know the difference between a yoga teacher and a yoga presenter. “Presenters” are there because they look good doing the poses and are good at memorized “cues” (lines) and putting together choreographed sequences.  They’re not going to stop and check on your joints/spine–especially if it’s pre-recorded, silly!  If you have NO idea how to modify the poses for your individual body type, (and it’s not that of a gymnast or dancer) watch out! If you don’t know your internal rotation from your external, you may be in over your head. At a minimum, try to find someone around your own age to follow.  Better yet, follow someone who explains or “cues” for differences in body proportions, ranges of motion and actually demonstrates alternatives.

Most online presenters give a little legal disclaimer at the beginning (“you can modify”) but they don’t tell you how or when. Why not? Because it disrupts their flow, their presentation, or, they just aren’t experienced with or interested in working with people of all ages and stages of life.  This holds especially true for SENIORS! I can’t tell you how many injuries I’ve heard of first hand when seniors start doing yoga or personal training w/ young and inexperienced instructors. Experience matters in yoga– you can’t put together a training course that magically endows / decades of wisdom –it literally takes…well…decades. 

Finally, we have to accept that COVID is changing our bodies. We’re not moving as much. Often an injury can be just as much about what you DIDN’T do as what you did do! Muscles lose their pliability and “intelligence,” joints dry out and get creaky. Take care, lower expectations and  good luck out there!

The Best Benefit of Yoga No One Mentions

“Mouthbreather,” the ultimate dis on “Stranger Things.”

In a recent study on the National Institute of Health website entitled, “Could nasal nitric oxide help to mitigate the severity of COVID-19?” the authors explain the role of nose breathing in creating Nitric Oxide. You know all about this if you come to class, but for the uninitiated, here’s the intro to the study:

The nasal cavity and turbinates play important physiological functions by filtering, warming and humidifying inhaled air. Paranasal sinuses continually produce nitric oxide (NO), a reactive oxygen species that diffuses to the bronchi and lungs to produce bronchodilatory and vasodilatory effects. Studies indicate that NO may also help to reduce respiratory tract infection by inactivating viruses and inhibiting their replication in epithelial cells. In view of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), clinical trials have been designed to examine the effects of inhaled nitric oxide in COVID-19 subjects. We discuss here additional lifestyle factors such as mouth breathing which may affect the antiviral response against SARS-CoV-2 by bypassing the filtering effect of the nose and by decreasing NO levels in the airways.   

So what’s a longtime mouth breather to do? You can’t just start breathing through your nose overnight.  No, but you can start yoga with an instructor who emphasizes pranayama (breathing exercises) and gives constant coaching on the in’s and out’s (sorry) of exactly how to breathe!

You take around 20,000 breaths per day; don’t you think it’s worth doing optimally?

In America’s search for the perfect yoga booty in under an hour, a few things had to go–top of the list were breathing exercises. It’s a practice that’s extremely subtle, frustrating for many, and difficult to teach. Besides, how are you supposed to nose breathe when you’re whipping through your vinyasa flow to get your cardio in?  There’s the other problem: classical yoga was never meant to be cardio in the first place. Sure, the gurus of yore had troops of adolescent boys who would perform almost circus-like routines to attract attention pre-Instagram, but that wasn’t for the “regular” folk coming to yoga for health and wellness.  

Big Yoga (gyms, Lifetime, CorePower, ) knows you’re busy and want a Total Body Workout in under an hour.  That’s great for them as they want to cram as many classes into a day as possible for their business model.  Poof!  There goes breathing exercises!  Besides, “I think my lungs are getting fat,” said no one…ever.

To do even a basic breathing practice takes at least an extra 10 minutes. Over time, you develop a kind of nose breathing momentum that gradually seeps into your posture practice so that you’re rarely, if ever mouth breathing — not even on exhalations. Stick with it, and you continue to breathe through your nose even after your leave class.

I know this progression as I was a mouth breather too, due to decades of allergies. Think about how much people spend on filtered water! How about some free filtered air? Once you start breathing the filtered, upscale variety of air, you never go back!

Still not convinced? Here’s an article outlining the negative effects of mouth breathing. Link here.

In children, mouth breathing is just as serious, possibly resulting in an ADD/ADHD misdiagnosis. Link here.

Why not set a basic #Covidgoal to become a nose breather if you’re not already? You’d be doing yourself a favor, as well as everyone else. The latest UMN study on indoor COVID transmission assumes that participants are all mouthbreathers– Whaaaat? #ew. At a minimum, your stress levels will decrease while practicing as nose breathing calms the heart and nervous system with all that Nitric Oxide –we could all use some more calm, right? Conversely, mouth breathers tend to be on edge, continually scanning for threats.

So yes, nose breathing can make you a calmer version of yourself, as well as improve your posture and spine. Shallow mouth breathers don’t create the micro-undulations of the vertebrae diaphragmatic nose breathers do, so their spines tend to calcify more easily, locking into place when sitting for long periods.

Diaphragmatic nose breathing keeps your joints and internal organs lubricated. It keeps stuff juicy and slippery, not sticky. Try it now: sit still on the edge of your chair, head balanced atop sitting bones / tailbone. Take a couple “normal” breaths, without thinking about it. How much and where does your body move? If the only part that moves is your shoulders, you may be a “clavicle breather.” It’s detrimental to your overall health and wellness, but completely curable!

Now, soften the belly (if you can) and imagine filling it with the breath. You should feel the nasal hair move as you inhale. Exhale as though you’re whispering “om,” (mouth shut, gap between upper and lower teeth) trying to make your exhalation twice as long as your inhale– you should feel the nasal hair move in the other direction. Feel how much and where your body moves, even though you’re technically sitting still.

YogaHotDish runs a couple all-breathing practices per month on ZOOM and includes breathing exercises in every ZOOM and in-person class. Your spine, nervous system, and heart will thank you– so will the people you live with!

Fill out a Contact Form to subscribe to this blog!

~

Shiva’s Pandemic Dance

zoom shiva CERN.webp

This statue of Shiva as “Lord of the Dance” sits outside the world’s largest nuclear collider known as CERN in Switzerland. Turns out, HInduism and physics have, in some ways, a similar worldview: that everything is constantly changing–matter to energy, energy to matter.  Sometimes known as the “God of Destruction,” at my training in Kripalu, they  used a kinder gentler “transformation.”

Shiva’s cosmic dance may start with destruction, but it is an ongoing process that also includes evolution, the revealing of “illusion” and eventually something Christians can recognize as “grace.”

Many of us are learning that the material things that formed the scaffolding for our lives–jobs, healthcare, schools, etc. weren’t the “sure things’ we once thought they were.  Our illusion of stability was shattered pretty quickly, by some microscopic beast we can’t even see!

So here we are, forced to confront who we are without all of that infrastructure. Our plans are on hold. Our futures are uncertain. Who are we without all of these anchors?

I suppose that’s the question most religions try to answer. Many people start to contemplate that sort of thing the older they get.  The surprising thing is seeing so many young people being forced to move such a big question up their list of priorities to ponder. I am truly excited to see what they come up with. I feel like a whole new generation of “millennial elders” is germinating.

Every single person is going through some sense of loss in these days of corona and quarantine. If we’re fortunate enough to escape grieving the loss of a loved one, we still have other losses– a wedding, a semester abroad, a prom, a hug–and those losses are a big deal.

When you see Lord of the Dance in art, Shiva is always surrounded by fire, symbolizing the circular nature of the universe. What you might miss is the scary looking gremlin creature on which he is balancing (while simultaneously creating and destroying the universe no less). That little demon is said by some to symbolize human cruelty and a visual reminder to be kind to one another, lest you get crushed!

Namaste from 6+ feet away.

What’s Wrong with Resolutions?

Ah January… for anyone in the fitness space, it’s a bit like April for tax accountants.  We even call it “Resolution Season.”  Some marketeers have pointed out to me that it would be more strategic if I had my sessions renew in January to get the “Resolution Crowd.” Still, over the years, I have kept to my schedule of running my Winter Session December-February.  Whilst a class or two may renew/launch in January, it’s usually due more to the venue than me.

So am I missing out on the Resolution Crowd?  Maybe so. That said, I’m not sure they’re my tribe.  Health clubs and big studios love the resolution crowd.  They know they’ll get a year of monthly fees from these well-meaning wellness wannabes. It doesn’t matter to the club or studio if they show up; which, studies show, many of them won’t after about March.  Then these poor people spend the rest of the year feeling even lousier about themselves–especially when they see that $100 + charge on their credit card statement. To me, that has always seemed a depressing way to make money.

The YogaHotDish business model, on the other hand, appeals to people who are ready to be committers.  They have to choose one class a week to attend for a manageable chunk of time: 3 months. And yes, we cater to travelers and go-getters so they can pro-rate out if they’re going to be gone.  There is a “make-up” safety net in that HotDishers can attend another class outside their normal time to make up a missed class, but the key is, normal classes don’t “rollover” after the 3-month session.  If you missed a couple, I can’t “credit” your account next time.  That way, you must attend yoga on average of at least once per week.  To make up a class, you have to go twice in one week. Now, make-ups do “rollover” as long as you keep renewing every quarter. In other words, I don’t care when you make up a class, even if it’s in 6 months, as long as you’re still in the program.

Think about what a different kind of proposition this is.  Big Yoga says, “Sign up for a year then come, don’t come– there are classes going all day long–you’ll get there eventually!”   YogaHotDish says, “I’ll commit to you, you commit to me, once a week. I’ll know you by name, I’ll help you with any issues that might impede your practice be they mental or physical. I’ll notice when you’re not there and encourage you to get to a make-up class. The group will notice you’re not there and wonder, “Where were you, we missed you.” Can you see the difference? Can you feel the profoundly different vibe coming off the screen right now?

So here’s the deal: if you want / need to start yoga, just do it in December.  We all know by now it takes a month to form a habit, right?  Do you think something magical is going to happen on New Year’s Day and suddenly everything will be easy? I can guarantee you, it won’t.  In fact, if you wait, you’ll probably be working off a backlog of extra calories that you’ll be intaking this week.  Why not use the change in schedule and downtime of the holidays to establish better habits? You’ll be on your way come January.  You could even sign up for the “Destress for Success” Workshop in Arden Hills come January -and it won’t be your first time on a yoga mat!  You’ll be a pro by then and not have to worry about the “holiday hangover” of stress and weight gain.  Are you ready to stand out from the crowd and get going now? If so, I am here to help!  Check your schedule, pick a day and fill out a contact form!

Top OB-GYN Dr. Carrie Terrell on Yoga for Women ~ especially women over 40!

This post about yoga for women is brought to you by our own YogaHotDisher, Top Doc, and Minnesota Monthly CoverGirl,  Dr. Carrie Ann  Terrell, MD, University of Minnesota (UMN). Thanks, Carrie for contributing to our blog–you have a lot of first-hand experience and professional knowledge!

DrT

The evidence for yoga improving various health problems is deep and varied.  I recommend the website nccam.nih.gov for an overview of the benefits of yoga as presented by the National Institutes of Health.  The evidence is solid as is my experience.

My most common patient scenario presents with a litany of concerns that reads something like this:

  • Fatigue, low energy, difficulty completing the umpteen tasks before her
  • Low libido
  • Inability to focus, memory loss, distractedness
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Weight gain, digestive problems
  • Dissatisfaction with life

These women are 40-60 years old, often partnered with a significant other of varying participation in the relationship/housework/child rearing/care taking/cooking/shopping, have busy/successful/demanding careers, are the primary caretaker of the house/parent(s)/children/pets, and have unwieldy expectations for what they “should” be doing to take care of themselves.

These patients are essentially working every hour of their lives.  If and when they sleep it is erratic and interrupted and they wake without having rested. Or they “rest” while watching TV, iPading, gaming, texting, Facebooking. These activities are not restful, rejuvenating, nor replenishing. As if this isn’t enough they are also constantly talking to/bombarding themselves with negative or expectant commentary that translates as “not enough or not good enough.” In fact, the incessant loop of streaming thought these women live with is exhausting.

These women often come in seeking a magical hormonal cure.  They read that estrogen or bioidentical hormones or compounded hormones will resolve all of their issues; that their issues must be related to menopause or perimenopause. Now, I’m not underestimating menopause. Estrogen deficiency causes hot flashes.  Hot flashes can disrupt thought, the work day, the physical body. When hot flashes occur at night, sleeplessness results and irritability, mood swings, memory problems can follow suit. However, in many many cases, estrogen deficiency is not the problem. These women need a break, a time out, a mini-retreat, a respite.

Many women have found their solution. Some have found it in running, others in meditating. However, for many the potential solutions are untenable, unreachable, or add to the never-ending list of shoulds. Or, the options are so overwhelming women cannot begin to decide what to do or how to perform self care.

For me, this is where yoga comes in. When taught well, with attention to the philosophy and teachings, Yoga provides peace, quiet and a chance to observe ourselves.  Some know yoga to be an exercise; a physical activity leading to fitness, improved health, increased heart rate, etc etc. The secret is that asana practice (the poses are called asana) is solely meant to allow us to sit comfortably enough,quietly enough to see and feel clearly. Undoubtedly, the physical practice feels good. “Doing” yoga feels good, but, what feels even better is being able to look at my thoughts and see, ‘huh, those are my thoughts. I am not my thoughts.” Or, “look, this awful thing happened to me or someone said this awful thing to me and gee, I don’t have to be affected by that. I can still be me.” Or, “This pose sucks. I hate this pose. My muscles are shaking. This is dumb. I’m way too important for this pose. Why did I come? I have better things to do.” Which over time can become, “This pose sucks. I hate this pose. I’ve gotten through this pose before. I am stronger. My resilience is better.”

After 14 years of practicing yoga I can honestly say it makes me a better person. I build better relationships. I think more clearly. I know my limitations and know what I need to care for myself. I can separate myself from my wrongdoings, my suffering, my awards, my rewards, my family and my thoughts. With this ability, I am able to set my work and personal goals in alignment with my deepest beliefs. I am able to achieve lifelong goals and hold positions of leadership with a sense of love and responsibility. I get to choose how I will react to incoming stimuli (if at all) and I can readily access a place of peace and serenity within myself.

Thurs 4:30 pm, Arden Hills Yoga HotDish (City Hall) ~ Drop-in just $15

Join our small group for all-levels, beginner-friendly yoga. This class is comprehensive, addressing the body, brain, balance, and breath. Arden Hills Yoga welcomes beginners who want to start right and fitness yogis looking to go deeper. Please fill out a contact form below before your register via the City of Arden Hills Website. Makeup missed classes on Saturdays at 10 am or in Shoreview (near North Oaks West Entrance) or Falcon Heights City Hall. 

FALL 2022 SESSION 

Sept 15-Dec 15 2022 (no class Thanksgiving) 

12 Thursdays, $156 res. $166 non-res. Register HERE

Please note there are 2 registration options for yoga on the Arden Hills Website: “Yoga classes” allows you to purchase drop-in classes for $15 ea; “Yoga for All Levels” allows you to purchase the whole session. If you’re dropping in more than once, just “bundle” however many classes you’d like to pay for in your cart.

New? Please fill out a contact form for Yoga Arden Hills below. Then kindly sign up through Arden Hills Yoga HERE.  Beginners are welcome and encouraged!  Are you ready to transform? 

 

WED 5:30 pm, North Oaks Yoga HotDish ~ Peace United

North Oaks Yoga HotDish is now serving Smarter Yoga for Better Living at  Peace United Methodist, a contemporary gem, just off Hodgson Rd, south of the North Oaks West Entrance. Still North Oaks Yoga but more convenient to Shoreview and Arden Hills– plus better vibes! This is sincere yoga for sincere people. Good-natured banter often ensues. Lots of natural light and a gorgeous, secluded outdoor space with bonfire potential!

Each class is a full menu of YogaHotDish from Asana (poses) to Pranayama (breathing techniques)  and Savasana (final meditation).  Bring a mat, water, towel, strap if you have one, and your sense of humor. This is an all-levels, small group class which means you’ll receive individual coaching.

Some loaner mats, blocks, and ties to lend.  You must be able to get up and down off the floor unassisted. We often have chairs, but it’s not “chair yoga.” Chairs are just great yoga props in general!

FALL SESSION 2022

Sept 7 – Nov 30; 13 Wednesdays, $195.00

SUMMER SESSION

June 8 – Aug 31, 14 Weeks, $195.

To pro-rate into a session, go to “Book Online” tab and select the $17/class “pro-rate” option and the number of weeks you’ll be attending during the session (must be at least half the classes to qualify for $17 rate).

To purchase add-on classes: Please select the $10/class “add-a-class” option and place them in the cart. You are not required to enroll in these ahead of time, but may pay this way for convenience.  You commit to one class per week, then can add a second at another class time. Your third class in a week is FREE!

Drop-ins Welcome: $20. 

 

WED Noon “Fit & Feisty 45+” North Oaks / Shoreview ~ Peace United

North Oaks Yoga HotDish “Fit & Feisty 45+” now meets in the unique space that is Peace United, a modern gem, just off Hodgson, south of the North Oaks West Entrance. Still North Oaks Yoga, but more convenient to Shoreview and Arden Hills– plus better vibes! This is sincere yoga for sincere people. Lots of natural light, gorgeous, secluded outdoor space with bonfire potential!

“Fit and Feisty” was named based on the class attendees, many of whom have been practicing together weekly for nearly 20 years!  Participants range in age from 40-something to 90-something. They’re the lifelong learners who make wellness a priority. They’re the inspiring ones who can grit it out and persevere through life’s vicissitudes and dazzle at class reunions!

Each class is a full menu of YogaHotDish from Asana (poses) to Pranayama (breathing techniques)  and Savasana (final meditation).  Poses are carefully vetted for value: there’s a risk-reward profile to every pose and many simply arent’ “worth it.” This is a class where attendance counts, but luckily, not much else.

Bring a mat, water, towel, strap if you have one, and your sense of humor. This is a small group class which means you’ll receive individual coaching.

Some loaner mats, blocks, and ties to lend.  You must be able to get up and down off the floor unassisted. We often have chairs, but it’s not “chair yoga.” Chairs are just great yoga props in general! Plan to be outdoors when temps 60-80 degrees.

FALL SESSION 2022

Sept 7 – Nov 30 (no class Nov 23)  12 weeks $180. Book HERE.

To pro-rate into a session, go to “Book Online” tab and select the $17/class “pro-rate” option and the number of weeks you’ll be attending during the session (must be at least half the classes to qualify for $17 rate).

To purchase add-on classes: Please select the $10 “add-a-class” option and place them in the cart. You are not required to enroll in these ahead of time but may pay this way for convenience.  You commit to one class per week, then can add a second at another class time. Your third class in a week is FREE!

 

MON 4:30pm, Falcon Heights Yoga HotDish, City Hall ~ Drop-in just $15!

This Falcon Heights yoga class has been running for several years.  Students love the community, camaraderie, and outdoor space, weather permitting. Many makeup missed classes at the City of Arden Hills on Thursdays at 4:30 pm or Saturdays at 10 am.  For Falcon Heights Yoga info, please check out the registration LINK below (www.falconheights.org)

Register HERE. Drop in for just $15, payable to Falcon Heights cash or check when you arrive. Gear to lend. Beginners always welcome!

SESSIONS 2022

Sept 12 – Oct 31, 8 Mondays; $96 res., $106 non-res.

Nov 7 – Dec 19, 7 Mondays; $84 res., $94 non-res.

 

 

MON 9:15 North Oak Golf Club Yoga HotDish ~ Non-Mbrs Welcome

Good Yogis Make Good Golfers! This is yoga for golf and yoga for life. Ballroom in the winter, patio in the summer. North Oaks Yoga enjoys some of the best views in the metro at the historic North Oaks Golf Club (NOGC). The Club recognized early on that good yogis make good golfers with fewer injuries and swing flaws. Expect a mix of beginners and experienced, golfers and non-golfers.

YogaHotDish classes cover the brain, body, balance, and breath, every class, every time. We don’t do a lot of “workshops” because the 90-min classes are all-inclusive. And no, you won’t get too tired. This is “relaxed exertion.”

Beginners are always welcome and encouraged. You do need to be able to move up and down off the floor, unassisted. Club members have priority, but all are welcome–we usually have plenty of space as this is a large and welcoming venue!

Classes renew quarterly, but you can pro-rate in, anytime.  Fill out a contact form and get going, ASAP. This is not a performance, this is an experience you’ll value from day one!

Drop-in $20.  Session price $15/ class.

FALL SESSION 2022

Sept 12 – Nov 28; 12 Mondays, $180.  Register HERE.

SAT 10 am, Arden Hills Yoga HotDish (City Hall) ~ Drop-in $15

Join our small group for all-levels, beginner-friendly yoga! This 90-min class is comprehensive, addressing the body, brain, balance, and breath.–no fast food/quickie classes served here! Arden Hills Yoga welcomes beginners who want to start right and fitness yogis looking to go deeper. Please fill out a contact form before your registration via the City of Arden Hills Website. Makeup missed classes on Saturdays at 10 am or in Shoreview (near North Oaks West Entrance) or Falcon Heights.

FALL 2022 SESSION 

Sept 17-Dec 17 2022 (no class Nov 24)

12 Thursdays, $156 res. $166 non-res. Register HERE

Please note there are 2 registration options for yoga on the Arden Hills Website: “Yoga classes” allows you to purchase drop-in classes for $15 ea; “Yoga for All Levels” allows you to purchase the whole session. If you’re dropping in more than once, just “bundle” however many classes you’d like to pay for in your cart. Add-a-classers: Pls purchase 3 at a time by bundling 2 drop-ins on the AH site!

New? Please fill out the contact form for Arden Hills Yoga below. Then kindly sign up through the City of Arden Hills HERE.  Beginners are welcome and encouraged!  Are you ready to transform?

 

Thurs 4:30 pm, Arden Hills Yoga HotDish (City Hall) ~ Drop-in just $15

Join our small group for all-levels, beginner-friendly yoga. This class is comprehensive, addressing the body, brain, balance, and breath. Arden Hills Yoga welcomes beginners who want to start right and fitness yogis looking to go deeper. Please fill out a contact form below before your register via the City of Arden Hills Website. Makeup missed classes on Saturdays at 10 am or in Shoreview (near North Oaks West Entrance) or Falcon Heights City Hall. 

FALL 2022 SESSION 

Sept 15-Dec 15 2022 (no class Thanksgiving) 

12 Thursdays, $156 res. $166 non-res. Register HERE

Please note there are 2 registration options for yoga on the Arden Hills Website: “Yoga classes” allows you to purchase drop-in classes for $15 ea; “Yoga for All Levels” allows you to purchase the whole session. If you’re dropping in more than once, just “bundle” however many classes you’d like to pay for in your cart.

New? Please fill out a contact form for Yoga Arden Hills below. Then kindly sign up through Arden Hills Yoga HERE.  Beginners are welcome and encouraged!  Are you ready to transform? 

 

WED 5:30 pm, North Oaks Yoga HotDish ~ Peace United

North Oaks Yoga HotDish is now serving Smarter Yoga for Better Living at  Peace United Methodist, a contemporary gem, just off Hodgson Rd, south of the North Oaks West Entrance. Still North Oaks Yoga but more convenient to Shoreview and Arden Hills– plus better vibes! This is sincere yoga for sincere people. Good-natured banter often ensues. Lots of natural light and a gorgeous, secluded outdoor space with bonfire potential!

Each class is a full menu of YogaHotDish from Asana (poses) to Pranayama (breathing techniques)  and Savasana (final meditation).  Bring a mat, water, towel, strap if you have one, and your sense of humor. This is an all-levels, small group class which means you’ll receive individual coaching.

Some loaner mats, blocks, and ties to lend.  You must be able to get up and down off the floor unassisted. We often have chairs, but it’s not “chair yoga.” Chairs are just great yoga props in general!

FALL SESSION 2022

Sept 7 – Nov 30; 13 Wednesdays, $195.00

SUMMER SESSION

June 8 – Aug 31, 14 Weeks, $195.

To pro-rate into a session, go to “Book Online” tab and select the $17/class “pro-rate” option and the number of weeks you’ll be attending during the session (must be at least half the classes to qualify for $17 rate).

To purchase add-on classes: Please select the $10/class “add-a-class” option and place them in the cart. You are not required to enroll in these ahead of time, but may pay this way for convenience.  You commit to one class per week, then can add a second at another class time. Your third class in a week is FREE!

Drop-ins Welcome: $20. 

 

WED Noon “Fit & Feisty 45+” North Oaks / Shoreview ~ Peace United

North Oaks Yoga HotDish “Fit & Feisty 45+” now meets in the unique space that is Peace United, a modern gem, just off Hodgson, south of the North Oaks West Entrance. Still North Oaks Yoga, but more convenient to Shoreview and Arden Hills– plus better vibes! This is sincere yoga for sincere people. Lots of natural light, gorgeous, secluded outdoor space with bonfire potential!

“Fit and Feisty” was named based on the class attendees, many of whom have been practicing together weekly for nearly 20 years!  Participants range in age from 40-something to 90-something. They’re the lifelong learners who make wellness a priority. They’re the inspiring ones who can grit it out and persevere through life’s vicissitudes and dazzle at class reunions!

Each class is a full menu of YogaHotDish from Asana (poses) to Pranayama (breathing techniques)  and Savasana (final meditation).  Poses are carefully vetted for value: there’s a risk-reward profile to every pose and many simply arent’ “worth it.” This is a class where attendance counts, but luckily, not much else.

Bring a mat, water, towel, strap if you have one, and your sense of humor. This is a small group class which means you’ll receive individual coaching.

Some loaner mats, blocks, and ties to lend.  You must be able to get up and down off the floor unassisted. We often have chairs, but it’s not “chair yoga.” Chairs are just great yoga props in general! Plan to be outdoors when temps 60-80 degrees.

FALL SESSION 2022

Sept 7 – Nov 30 (no class Nov 23)  12 weeks $180. Book HERE.

To pro-rate into a session, go to “Book Online” tab and select the $17/class “pro-rate” option and the number of weeks you’ll be attending during the session (must be at least half the classes to qualify for $17 rate).

To purchase add-on classes: Please select the $10 “add-a-class” option and place them in the cart. You are not required to enroll in these ahead of time but may pay this way for convenience.  You commit to one class per week, then can add a second at another class time. Your third class in a week is FREE!

 

MON 4:30pm, Falcon Heights Yoga HotDish, City Hall ~ Drop-in just $15!

This Falcon Heights yoga class has been running for several years.  Students love the community, camaraderie, and outdoor space, weather permitting. Many makeup missed classes at the City of Arden Hills on Thursdays at 4:30 pm or Saturdays at 10 am.  For Falcon Heights Yoga info, please check out the registration LINK below (www.falconheights.org)

Register HERE. Drop in for just $15, payable to Falcon Heights cash or check when you arrive. Gear to lend. Beginners always welcome!

SESSIONS 2022

Sept 12 – Oct 31, 8 Mondays; $96 res., $106 non-res.

Nov 7 – Dec 19, 7 Mondays; $84 res., $94 non-res.