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Thoughts From A Traveling Yogi; How Going Abroad Becomes an Integral Part of Spiritual Practice

For as far back as I can remember, I have been a mover and I have been a seeker. The formal ballet training I began as a young girl lead to a performing career in modern dance, and a job as a Pilates and yoga instructor. Similarly, the affinity I had in my adolescence for collecting inspirational quotes, song lyrics, and fortune cookie wisdom evolved into a fascination of both Buddhist and Vedic philosophy. The culmination of these influences in my life currently is the  dedication to the 8 limbed system of Ashtanga yoga. My intense love and commitment to the yogic lifestyle has been rivaled by only one other thing; my love for travel.

I set out on my first international trip in 2013, when I was 27 years old. I was years into an steady yoga practice, I had been meditating consistently for 2 years, and I had even spent time living in an ashram. I had read every book on Buddhism that the local library had in stock. I was volunteering my time to various organizations as Karma yoga, or selfless service. I was desperately trying to cultivate all the virtues I was reading about, such as kindness, non-attatchment, and compassion. This was all well and good, but as most contemporary teachers or yoga or Buddhism will tell you, these skills are meant to be tested out in the world and the convictions that you have because of these practices are meant to be evaluated. My time traveling did just that and more. I was a long time vegan who ate eggs in Vietnam because the chickens they came from were roaming wild and free, and who ate croissants and cheese in Italy because they were handmade with love and generosity by a grandmother named Gilda. I shared rooms and bunks the size of broom closets with other travelers and often went without the luxuries I had been used to at home. I visited the site of the Mai Lai massacre and the war museum in Croatia in order to touch and be reminded of the suffering of others. I put aside my own religious views long enough to be completely awed by the beauty of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. I have seen unimaginable poverty and unimaginable wealth. I healed deep wounds from a past lover who told me that I was boring and had low self esteem when I sat atop a waterfall in Iceland, (the third I had summited that day), and thought, “Hmm, I don’t think those things are true!”. I even remember being frustrated with myself on a trip because I hadn’t been sitting down to practice meditation, and then I realized that I had walked with a 55 lb backpack 2 miles in a rainstorm, slept overnight in a baggage claim, and accidentally left a friend on a train platform, all without losing it, which showed me that I must have been practicing something! My travels have shown me that I am indeed well equipped with the patience, bravery, compassion, and humility that I had been longing to achieve. And it has made me eternally hungry for more.

I know I am not the only one who feels this way, and I do not think it is an accident that a pursuit of a spiritual practice and an affinity for world travel often go hand in hand. There are several reasons I think this is the case, but to put it most simply; traveling puts practice to the test and provides new and more challenging way to practice the skills you have been honing on your mat or on your cushion.

Not only do I believe that my yoga practice has given me the tools to enjoy my travel experiences to the fullest, but having a spiritual practice and philosophy on the workings of the world has only made me want to travel more extensively. Likewise, the greatest influence that travel and exploration has had on me as a human being is that it has affirmed my belief in the necessity of spiritual work. Never again do I want to, nor do I think that I will, see the world as centered around myself and my personal comfort. I am forever growing more concerned and invested in the well beings of others and the way in which my actions have a lasting effect on the environment and the generations to come. I have a reverence for the history and cultures from other corners of the globe that I never quite had despite having been theoretically familiarized to them via textbook. My mind and heart have opened to politics, food, language, and lifestyles in ways I never imagined.

As a teacher of yoga, I am blessed with the opportunity to share what little wisdom and experience I have gathered to my students. I try to impart upon them the immense spiritual value of travel and why it is more than worth the sacrifice to make it happen. To all of you readers, the time is now to deepen your spiritual practice by exploring the world around you. The time is now to align with your own true nature by looking deeply into the lives of others. The time is now to take your practice out into the world, put it to the test, and bring it back in full bloom, watered and enriched by your experiences. Wander. Wander far. Wander with love and with gratitude, and never stop!

The light in me honors the light in all of you…Allison-23

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Workplace Wellness Wisdom

Workplace Wellness Wisdomimage

I taught my first on-site corporate Pilates/yoga class in February of 2011. The company was Genie Scientific, an industrial furniture manufacturing and design company. There were two main motivating factors behind the inception of these classes. The first was to reduce what had been an increase in incidents resulting in workers compensation payouts. The second was the boss, Moya O’neill’s, desire to share with her office staff the benefits she had experienced personally through her work with the Pilates Method. Now 5 years later, there manufacturing staff has gone 1495 days without an accident, another one hour yoga class has been added on to the schedule, and several participants have sought further outside instruction in mindfulness and meditation techniques. It can be said that the classes have been a success.

While the institution of yoga classes in the workplace is rather modern, the intention behind it is not. In fact, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras support the aim behind corporate wellness programs.

Yoga Sutra II.16: Heyam -Dukham -Anagatam –

The pains which are yet to come can and are to be avoided.

What Patanjali is saying here is that yoga is a preventative healing art and science. By adhering to yogic discipline, we can build robust health in body and mind and construct a defensive strength with which to counteract and altogether avoid afflictions that we may not yet even perceive. It has often be the case that people pursue a imagefitness or health regime in order to produce immediate and tangible results. This could be to loose a certain number of pounds, to lower a cholesterol count, or to rehab from an injury. The philosophy of the yogic tradition emphasizes the importance of appreciating the more holistic view of yoga as a practice that will produce benefits seen and unseen, and one that should be practiced steadily throughout life.

This is especially important and unique in regards to the workplace for several reasons. Everyone who is employed is subject to an occupational hazard. For the laborers at Genie Scientific these are physical and specific to the stress on the body from standing on foot for long periods, lifting heavy loads, and working with dangerous tools. For the office staff, the physical hazards are more related to long periods of being sedentary and having poor posture related to the computer. The owner may not be subject to either of these, but she is running a company! Imagine the possible stress. All of these things can be combated with a regular yoga practice to prevent future harm whether it is physical or emotional.

The business world is already waking up to the escalating cost of healthcare and the need for intervention. In 2008, the corporate wellness industry was estimated at $1.6 billion and in 2015 was estimated at $5.8 billion! A recent Health Affairs meta-analysis of workplace disease prevention and health programs found that for every dollar spent on the program, medical costs dropped by $3.27 and absenteeism costs dropped by $2.73. Future pain is clearly being avoided. Patanjali would be so proud.

Consider the success at Genie Scientific and contact me today if you or your company is interested in implementing any kind of corporate wellness. Even one class a week can be a big step toward a happier, healthier, and more productive professional life.image

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Sthira Sukha Asanam: Sage Advice for Wellness in the Workplace

Sthira Sukha Asanam: Sage Advice for Wellness in the Workplace

 

Somewhere between 500 and 200 B.C the great Sage Patanjali, an evolved soul said to have incarnated of his own will to help humanity, wrote 196 precise and profound aphorisms known as the Yoga Sutras. This body of work has since served as a sort of manual on the path to Self Realization and is comprised of instructions on contemplation, practice, properties and powers, and emancipation and freedom.

Yoga Sutra II.46 is Sthira Sukha Asanam. This roughly translates to, “ a seat of steadiness and ease”. As far as the Hatha Yoga tradition we practice today is concerned, this is mostly interpreted to address the way we practice yoga asana, or the physical postures we perform on our mats. This means our physical practice should be done with a consistent, steady amount of intensity, but one in which there is still a soft and malleable quality that holds space for breath and meditation. If we push too hard physically, our efforts will not be sustainable. Extreme force coming from a place of ego can cause fatigue, emotional instability, and inability to remain present. If we lack luster or effort in our practice, we remain dull and make no progress. It must be a carefully balanced combination of both; steadiness and ease.

B.K.S Iyengar describes is like this, “Whatever asana is performed, it should be done with a feeling of firmness, steadiness and endurance in the body; goodwill in the intelligence of the head, and awareness and delight in the intelligence of the heart.”

Let’s look deeper into the translation and see how we might live this sutra off the mat and in our places of work.

Sthira: steady, stable, to take a stand

Sukha: good, joyful, easy and virtuous, resolutely abiding in a good space

Asana: act of sitting down, dwelling, being present.

Consider the ‘act of sitting down’ to a work related task. Would it not be of benefit to do so ‘joyfully’ and with ‘steady’ effort? What if at work you were consistently ‘taking a stand’ but while always ‘abiding in a good space?

How likely is it that we are doing this now? In our culture, the workplace is often run on timelines, deadlines, and overtime. Competition between employees is rampant and motivation comes in the form of bonuses or elusive and vague opportunities for advancement. Changes in the economy shift responsibilities and workloads without changes in workplace structure and/or pay. We have told ourselves that we should work hard so that later on we can play hard. We are practically working ourselves to death while we are young to hypothetically have some relief from this cycle when we are old and able to retire. Where is the balance? Is this sustainable? And more importantly, are we even getting quality work done at this strenuous pace?

Employers should consider the bottom line; working without a sense of steadiness as well as ease is not sustainable. Stress in the workplace is costing American businesses $300 billion dollars a year. That’s the figure the American Psychological Association puts on the loss of productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and increased medical costs caused by stress at work. According to the 2011 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive 77% of Americans are stressed out about something related to their job. Employees currently experiencing this kind of stress and dissatisfaction may want to consider a yoga practice to bring about changes to their work experience when literal changes to their workload or workplace environment are not possible.

When I was first developing my corporate Pilates/yoga business, my brother introduced me to the book “The Four Hour Workweek”, by Timothy Ferris. This book, in a nutshell, is a guide to working smarter rather than harder, with the end goal being meaningful work that is accomplished efficiently, and leaves plenty of time for a rich and satisfying life. Timothy is strongly against the idea of multitasking, stating that, “If you prioritize properly there is no need to multitask”. He also advises that, “Divided attention will result in more frequent interruptions, lapses in concentration, poorer net results, and less gratification.” This concept of forgetting multitasking in favor of a single point of focus echoes not only the notion of Sthira, but of other yoga philosophies. The Bhagavad Gita says, “many branched and endless are the thoughts of the man who lacks determination”. In our work, we must remain determined and steady in order to achieve not only success, but also peace of mind and emotional equanimity so that we may continue to work throughout our lifetime without burnout or dissatisfaction.

I’m sure some of you reading this are skeptical of the possibility of incorporating a sense of joy or ease into your working habits because you really do have a high stress job with a large workload and deadlines to meet. But here is the beauty in the internal practice of yoga; ardent adherence to a yoga or mindfulness practice will start to bleed off of your mat, into other areas of your life, and improve everything that you do. Once you can steady the fluctuations of the mind and find ease, what you produce at work will be of higher quality because you will have been more focused when creating it. When the intention is there the results will follow.

Ask me how to suggest to your employer or to provide to your employees an on-site yoga or mindfulness practice. Even 30 minutes could make a big difference! I tailor my classes specifically to the needs of your work environment. Not only have I retained all of my corporate clients, but also most of them have added more classes once they experience the difference of a mindful workplace.

To all of you out there living your dharma and contributing to society through the working world…may the manner in which you work be that perfect equilibrium between effort and ease.

Namaste

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Ardha chandrasana in Vietnam

The pose: Ardha Chandrasana – The half moon pose

This pose is one of my favorites. While it is challenging due to the fact it involves balance, it is considered a beginner to intermediate posture for a healthy practitioner.

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The most common, (but easy to fix), mistake I see in classes is this; the back leg is not lifted high enough, soon enough, and the knee is almost never straight. Why is this? I am guessing that people feel that if they proceed with caution they will be more likely to find success. Balance poses can be scary or at the very least, humbling to an ego attached to results. Students appear to be so fixated on their fingertips on the floor, and so worried about falling, that they neglect to energize the back leg. What is this actually doing? Making the balance more difficult! The energy of a bent back leg and relaxed and wavering foot has died. This is making your lifted leg feel heavier and your supporting leg less stable. It’s even likely that this is putting more strain and stress on your back.image

This is one of the many quirky things that pop up in our asana practice that are worthwhile examining off the mat. Why is it that when we are faced with something challenging or that could possibly result in even a minor blunder, that we insist on holding back our power? Why are we afraid to utilize our strengths and potential? Honestly, when has half-assing anything worked out well for you? I digress…
What to do instead; lift your back leg up in alignment with your top hip. Make sure that your toes point straight to the space in front of you. Flex your top foot VIGOROUSLY, as if you were trying to put a footprint on the wall. I often say, “Make a leg that is fit to stand on”.

Making rice noddles in the village

Making rice noddles in the village

I will usually have students prepare for ardha chandrasana by doing sputa utthita hasta padangustasana, (supine hand to big toe pose), in the warm up to open the hips and hamstrings, and have them transition into half moon from utthita parsvakonasana, (side angle pose), so that their hips are already familiar with the external rotation. To move into the pose, aim your fingertips, (or block), about one foot in front of your supporting pinky toe. I myself did this pose for years with my fingertips on the floor, because with my flexibility I could, but one day I used a block under my hand, lifting my torso just enough to allow for subtle adjustments in length, rotation, and breathing. This is still how I choose to practice this pose. Props are your friend, people!

Speaking of props, lets address the obvious…

The Travel: Hoi An, Vietnam. This is our adorable bicycle tour guide performing ardha chandrasana on top of a water buffalo! This was one of my favorite cities in all of Vietnam. Far from the traffic, pollution, and cacophony of some of the more crowded cities, Hoi An is set amongst waterways and used to serve as a major port. This is both a culinary mecca and the best place in Vietnam to have clothes custom made. Choosing silk as your fabric? Some shopkeepers will take you upstairs and visit the silkworms hard and work as well as show you the process of harvesting and working with delicate strands. Another fun fact about Hoi An; the garbage trucks play the songs that our ice cream trucks play! No joke.
This cycling tour however, brought us out of the town and into the countryside where we got to experience another level of culture and scenery. Considered a ‘responsible tourism’ company, the focus of this off the beaten path trek was to participate in the local lifestyle and economy in a way that would be beneficially to the inhabitants.

Floating lanterns down the river with wishes for the upcoming year

Floating lanterns down the river with wishes for the upcoming year

imageOur first stop was to check out this water buffalo. They are used as natural aerators for the rice patties, and of course, sometimes yoga mats! One of our other stops included a duck farm; think the furthest thing imaginable from a factory far. A farmer was attempting to herd the ducks as we rode up, (I’ve taken it upon myself to replace the idiom ‘herding cats’ to ‘herding ducks’ as believe it must be similar in ridiculousness), what instead happened can only be described as a duck waterfall over a shallow hill. It was about as adorable as you’re imagining.
Next stop was to the home of Mr. Doa. He lost his foot in the Cambodian war and long struggled to make a living. He dabbled in incense making until he wised up and started distilling his own rice wine. We blind taste tested 3 samples of this wine that were 30, 40, or 80 percent alcohol. My friends who got the 80 percent had runny noses, watery eyes, and stayed of booze for the rest of the day. Mr. Doa wife made us snacks, his 6 year old daughter showed off her latest artwork, and his 8 little piglets licked our toes!

Lastly we rode off to the humble home of a family that supplies most of the residents of Hoi An with rice noodles. We were all offered to take a chance making our own, yes it’s harder than you think, and then we had lunch with the family. The idea of exchanges like this one is that a weary and increasingly frugal group of backpackers can have a delicious authentic meal for around $3-4, which to the family is more than they make in about a week. Win win.

I cannot sing enough praises about Vietnam, Hoi An, and tours and tour guides like this yogi here. If you are thinking of traveling that way, ask me for more tips!

Namaste

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Breath | VIGORANDSAGE

“It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe” –Bob Dylan

Often times while I am giving a Pilates session or teaching a yoga class, I will ask what is meant to be the rhetorical question, “are you breathing?” More often than not, I am met with a somewhat indignant tone and response that more or less says “I’m still alive so of course I am”. Yes, breathing is an automatic function, but so are things like sleep, and digestion. All of the above can be affected negatively by the poor lifestyle choices and chronic stress that are so present in our culture. It’s not that unusual for those things to get so out of balance that we resort to using drugs to regulate them, or have to engage in some sort of therapeutic approach to get our bodies to relearn what they once already knew. I guess what I should be asking is, are you breathing optimally? Again, if I am asking that question in the first place, the answer is no. You see, the amount of breath and the quality of breath that is needed to simply sustain life comes no where near the amount and quality of breath that has positive effects on our nervous system, efficiently rids the body of toxins, releases tension, and overall nourishes our body and mind.

Here I will outline some of the reasons why our breath deviates from its most optimal rhythm, point out the healing benefits of regulating our breath, and lastly offer you some pointers on how to start bringing better breathing practices into your everyday life.

One reason that our breath becomes, short, shallow, and less than optimal is simply that its too fast.. Most of us nowadays are doing everything too fast! If you are not able to slow down enough to even tap into even become aware of the breath, the rest of these tips will be unattainable. So start there, ditch your old habitual tendency to do too much too fast, and prepare to slow down and take a look inward.

The second reason why breath suffers is poor posture. It doesn’t have any room to move! Picture a body that is hunched over, even to a degree that we consider to be mild like typing on a computer or looking down at our phone to send a text. The ribs practically sit on top of the hips, the collarbone narrows, and the internal organs crown one another leaving no room for the diaphragm to drop down. This leaves only room for a shallow breath pathway into the top chest and throat allowing the air to just trickle into the lungs. Some estimates suggest that on average we only use about 30% of our full lung capacity.bodies_slideshow3

Another major contributor to diminished breath efficiency is the presence of trauma and/or chronic stress. It has been observed that sufferers of trauma breathe shallow quick breaths in and out only through the mouth. The top of the chest fills and empties with air but not the pit of the abdomen as in a deep, conscious breath. The reason is, this breath is tied to the nervous systems “fight or flight response”. This breath is highly functional in short spurts of action such as escaping a predator. Short sporadic uses of that breath that were functional throughout our evolution aren’t necessarily a problem or a builder of a bad habit. The problem arises when we create a life so full of stress, with so little resource to counter that stress that it becomes chronic. The mind is a powerful manipulator, hence why it is important to learn to calm it. Your nervous system is victim to what you perceive to be a stressful situation whether it is indeed actually life threatening or not. Imagine that every time you have a work deadline, have to care for your family, or are stuck in traffic your body behaves as if it were running from a wildebeest. How long might you suppose a body can stay healthy doing that?

So, whether or not you currently train in pranayama or another discipline that emphasizes breath control or not, here are some tips to make conscious breathing more accessible throughout your day.

Lets start by considering the parts that make up a breath cycle. In the yogic tradition the inhalation is to be considered more energizing, and a time to tap into or examine the gross physical body. (Perhaps the way the air feels as is comes in through the nose, or the way it moves and expands our body parts like belly and ribs. The exhalation is to be considered more grounding and cooling, as well as a time to tap into the subtle or energetic body. (For example, how do your emotions shift as you breath deeply, does the mind become more steady, can you feel tension leaving areas where it is usually held?) Additionally, the space that resides between the in and out breaths is also important, and should be given its space and time to complete the cycle. As you practice deep breathing consider these qualities as you inhale, noticing the sensations, observe the qualities of the exhalation. You could even pick a keyword relating to what you feel and use it like a mantra. For example, say to yourself, “energize” as you inhale, and “relax” as you exhale.

Another way to experience awareness of these different parts of the breath cycle is to count the breaths. Start with something manageable that won’t make you feel as though you are laboring too much, like 4 counts to inhale, one count of lightly holding or pausing, and then 4 counts to exhale. You can increase the counts as you wish but I recommend the main focus being able to make the in and out breaths equal in length and quality. Notice how you feel after just a few rounds of this.

If you find trouble remembering to practice breath work or making time to practice breath work, this next tip will be especially helpful. Pick a cue, something environmental that happens throughout the day and usually grabs your attention. This could be the telephone ringing, being stopped at a red light, or waiting in line somewhere. Take that time to bring your attention to the breath and then practice a few conscious breaths. That could amount to 5, 10, 20 times a day you are practicing conscious breathing! It won’t be long before your body adapts and your breath unconsciously deepens.

Try it. You’ll like it.

“Verily, the life breath is the essence of the limbs, yes, life breath is the essence of the limbs. –Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad I. 3. 19.

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January 6th, 2016

Last night a fellow yogi and I shared some falafel (ahimsa, ya’ll!), some wine, and some stories. I had been able to recall, I surprising detail a ‘light bulb’ moment I had in a yoga class many years ago. When I say yoga class, let me paint the more accurate picture of a group exercise class, in a freezing cold tile floored room with a swinging glass door creating a fragile barrier between us and the weightlifters, cardio addicts and top 40 music outside. The teacher? AFFA certified in an 8 hour weekend course. The music? The same Deva Premal album that anyone who has even poked his or her head into a yoga class in the last 20 years has heard. The Sanskrit? Oh-none. It’s not allowed in gyms like this. Too…offensive?? Anyways, suffice it to say the poses were congruent with all this. I think class was a grand sum of cat/cow, warrior I and II, (without bothering to change the heel arch alignment of course), and tree pose, (to be fancy, of course).In all sincerity, I am in no way putting down this class, teacher, or practitioners, (as this is precisely the kind of gateway class that is important for the introduction of yoga to new demographics), quite the contrary. I want to set the stage for how surprising to me it was that I had the revelation that I did.Image-1

Sometime in between one not-a-real-asana-side-bend to the right and the not-a-real-asana-side-bend to the left, it dawned on me; this was the first time I ever, truly, felt beautiful. Not pretty, but beautiful.

Now, I know I just elicited a giant eye roll from some of you, but hear me out. I’ve not exactly been the poster girl for high self-esteem, and I have long battled with an eating disorder in several forms. But that’s also beside the point. What’s interesting about this moment is that there is no way that feeling came just from the physical grace that can come from executing an asana, because I know I’d been there before. I’d executed many a physical postures by this point. After training with a pre-professional ballet academy for over 15 years and rising to the ranks of principle dancer, not only had I mastered graceful movements, but I had performed them, over and over, wearing crystals, and silks, and pink ribbons, and RED, seriously, the reddest red, lipstick. The year I performed the role of the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker, I was also the homecoming princess. That’s like…3 different tiaras and all of the fake eyelashes the Vacaville Longs could stock their shelves with. So, why, here in my sweatpants on a used mat in a dirty gym was I feeling this way for the very first time? Well, I don’t actually have an answer here, but the illusory nature of the answer fascinates me and fuels my love for yoga practice. It is, as one of my favorite yogis Rebecca Fink says, “Deeper than Asana”. I would even venture to say that this was not the first time I felt beautiful, but rather the first time I felt one hundred percent comfortable admitting to myself that I felt beautiful. I think this is one of yoga’s many gifts; a complete and total opening of the heart to unconditional love for the self. An unapologetic embrace of what is our essential nature; beauty and love and acceptance of what eternally is.

I also had this inkling, in that very moment, that there would come a day that I would need to remember this; that I would need to return to this place of yogic grace to carry me through. I had no idea how true that would ultimately be But that’s another story for another day, (soon)!

Namaste

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The pose: Gomukhasana

The pose: Gomukhasana (go-moo-KHAS-anna)

Loosely translated from Sanskrit means “cow face”!

This photo demonstrates the arm variation for gomukhasana and is very useful for stretching the biceps, triceps, deltoids, and muscles of the chest and shoulders. I especially love this for my corporate clients who are on a computer all day or doing manual labor. They often use a strap or towel to make the pose safer and more accessible. Added bonus comes from drawing your head back into the cradle of your upper arm. This might feel like a double chin, which may not be so fashionable, but will put your head back onto your spine after a day full of forward chin jutting to see your computer screen or cell phone!!! 

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Since this page is aimed to highlight travel, let me see if I can think of a place that has a lot of cows…hmm… Oh! I know! My hometown of VACAVILLE, California! Situated between San Francisco and Sacramento and boasting a population of 95,000 it’s not nearly as small as it sounds. If you are a 30 something who was a hostile teen, perhaps you remember the band Papa Roach. They’re from there. If you’re a not-so-30 something you might know if for the Nut Tree.

I suppose that’s where it all started for me; my love of yoga because it was required by my ballet teacher, (for the record I didn’t “love” it at the time), and my love for travel because…I wanted to get the hell out of there!

But if YOU are traveling through that way, you should get your gomukhasana on at Ebb and Flow Yoga in downtown Vacaville. First Friday’s of the month they do “breaths, beats, and brews”…that’s a vinyasa flow class with a live DJ and beer and kombucha after!

~NAMASTE~

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Book: Return to Life Through Contrology

Return to Life Through Contrology - by Joseph Pilates

“Even those who are fortunate to work in the city and live in the country must counteract the unnatural physical fatigue and mental strain experienced in our daily activities.”

“With body mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person?…

Moreover, such a body freed from nervous tension and over-fatigued is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well-balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.”

“The acquirement and enjoyment of physical well-being, mental calm, and spiritual peace are priceless to their possessors.”

from Return to Life Through Contrology by Joseph Pilates

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The Power of Pilates

Allison teaching a group Pilates classes at work.

As a dancer, I have always been captivated by the ability of the human body to move in extraordinarily beautiful and amazing ways. I spend most of my days dancing, doing Pilates and Yoga, and running. Even while at work, I strive to remain mobile and actively breathing.

Sadly this is not the norm.

Stress is present in any profession. It permeates the physical bodies of employees, putting optimal health even further out of reach. Many people spend their days driving to work, hunched over a steering wheel, and will sit all day in front of a computer, while repeating the same motions over and over.

It is my vision that the work environment can be transformed into a place that actually promotes a healthy an active lifestyle. It will allow employees to learn and practice proper fitness techniques and incorporate breathing and relaxation exercises into their daily routines.

I believe that the teachings of Pilates can transform any workplace into a healthy, happy, and productive environment where employees thrive.

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