All posts by Katey Hawes

Yoga and Grief

By Ellen S. Gibson

I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.

–Edward Thomas (1878-1918) from his poem, “Lights Out”

My mother died at the end of December. It was not completely unexpected. She was 93 years of age. She lived a long life, a good life, but had been in declining health for some time.

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Yoga and Hope

By Ellen S. Gibson

Hope is a thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the song without the words
And never stops at all.

-Emily Dickinson

Each day I come to the mat, there is the expectation that I will feel better for having practiced yoga. It could be ten uninterrupted minutes or a 45-minute class via Zoom. The amount of time matters less than showing up. Physically, my back may be stiff from too much shoveling. Emotionally, I may be feeling overwhelmed, tense, or anxious. No matter the starting point, when I leave the mat, I am stronger, calmer, and more balanced.

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How To Manage Moving Stress

In the News!

Check out our feature in Redfin’s latest article: “Moving Stressing You Out? Practice These Self-Care Tips

The psychology of moving is well documented. Moving is considered one of the most stressful life events by researchers. No matter how much you love your new home, you might still experience moving anxiety and relocation depression. It is important to practice self-care throughout this transition, so you can stress less during your move. To help you get started, I, along with other experts from across the country, shared some of our best tips and tricks to practice self-care and relieve moving stress and anxiety.

Click below to read the full article:

Moving Stressing You Out? Practice These Self-Care Tips

The Beginning is Always Today

By Ellen S. Gibson

The beginning is always today.
–Unknown

Greetings Yoga Friends:

I’m writing this in front of a campfire at the South Branch Pond campground in Baxter State Park. It is one day after the fall equinox, a cool, clear evening. The stars are dazzling. The moon is waxing. My partner, Stephen, and I are on our annual Baxter trip.

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Plankity Plank

A year ago, I shared a blog about a healthy and well-balanced movement diet. (See July 2018 – How’s your movement diet?)  In that blog, I recommended ten movements or activities to consider incorporating into your daily movement diet to optimize your health and life enjoyment.  #10 was the recommendation to do plank daily.  I did add the caveat that plank may not be for everyone; however, today I am sharing several variations on the traditional high plank that help make it healthy and accessible for nearly everybody! 

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Inhale exhale, In and Out, Give and Take

Try breathing like this:  exhale … exhale … exhale … exhale again.

How did that go?  I’m guessing that you were wondering what happened to the inhale?  It is a simple fact that you cannot keep breathing out without breathing in and live to tell about it! Likewise, you cannot live well without balancing the care that you commit to others with the care that you give yourself.  Yoga at its core is a self-care practice.  As we experience greater balance, harmony, and joy in ourselves through these practices, we are better able to care for the world around us.  A win-win for all. (Click here to learn more about yoga self-care practices.)

The practices of yoga that promote this self-care include physical practices, breath work, self-awareness, meditation, and ethical guidelines.  Though many of the more vigorous practices are excellent for the care of the physical body, the slower and quieter practices help us focus our energies on all parts of our being for comprehensive self-care. Some of these slower and more introspective practices include Restorative yoga, Yin yoga, Sen yoga, and Yoga nidra which offer a variety of benefits as outlined below:

Restorative Yoga

This practice helps to promote deep relaxation of the body and mind. During a restorative yoga class, you will sloEnw down and allow your muscles and mind to relax deeply. Postures are fully supported using a variety of yoga props to minimize strain and muscle holding. These stretches are held for many minutes (typically 4-10 minutes) as you are guided into awareness of the breath and body, allowing the muscles and nervous system to relax and release tensions.

Some of the reported benefits of restorative yoga include:

  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Deep relaxation of the body
  • Quieting of the mind
  • Improved capacity for healing and balancing
  • Balancing of the nervous system
  • Enhanced mood states
  • Improved immune function

Yin Yoga

This practice is slow-paced practice and closely resembles restorative yoga where students are encouraged to move just a bit further into the stretches. Its primary goals are to target the joints and the deep connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine.  Props are used to support you in your poses as they are held for 3-7 minutes and you are invited to feel a gentle to moderate stretch.  Yin yoga is influenced by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), sequencing postures to stretch and compress the meridians (the energetic lines of TCM). Guided and supported mindfulness meditation is incorporated into many yin classes.

Some of the reported benefits of Yin yoga include:

  • Calming and balancing of the mind and body
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Balancing of the internal organs and improved the flow of chi or prana (Vital life force)

Sen Yoga

This practice combines self-massage, repetitive movement at the joints, breath awareness that is linked with rhythmic movements in and out of postures, and supported postures that may be held 3-6 minutes on average. Sen Yoga is influenced by Traditional Thai Medicine and Thai yoga (Reusi Dat Ton), massaging and stretching the sen lines (the energetic lines of Traditional Thai Medicine).  Guided and supported insight meditation is incorporated into this practice.

Some benefits of Sen yoga may include improved:

  • Lymphatic flow supporting the immune system
  • Circulation
  • Joint mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Awareness and response to the emotions as they arise
  • Relaxation of the body and mind

Yoga Nidra

A state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage. During a Yoga Nidra practice, you will rest on your back using props to ensure your comfort. Your teacher verbally guides you through a series of steps to become increasingly aware of your inner world allowing the body to become completely relaxed.  Yoga nidra is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.

Some of the reported benefits of Yoga Nidra include:

  • Decreased depression and / or anxiety
  • Improved sleep patterns
  • Deep healing rest
  • Clearing of the mind for improved learning and absorption of new material
  • Decreased tension in the body and mind
  • Increased creativity

According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.16 (heyam dukham anagatam), the suffering that is to come can (and should) be avoided.  Self-care is an important step that we all should take on the path to greater balance and preventative care to help prevent unnecessary future suffering.  Once we take steps to care for ourselves with compassion and understanding, we become better able to care for others and become the change that we want to see in ourselves and the world around us.

Through March 2019 we will be offering a self-care series on Sundays 3:00 – 5:00 PM that includes: Restorative yoga infused with reiki, Yin yoga with hot stones, Sen yoga with Thai herbal compress balls, and Yoga nidra infused with aromatherapy. We hope that you can join us for one or more of these classes, and any of our regularly scheduled quiet practices.

Katey Hawes, MS, PT, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, YACE, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist. You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4uTwitter @Posabilities4u, and Instagram .

Transitioning to Winter with Ease

Guest Writer:  Sophia Maamouri

As we transition from summer to fall, we prepare ourselves for winter. The energy of the plant world is going into the roots. Foliage is drying and turning beautiful colors. Squirrels are busy stealing seeds from the bird feeders and hoarding food to their “storage units.” My goats are fluffing up with their new cashmere undercoat, and the chickens and ducks are molting. Bears are fattening up for hibernation.

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Get the Scoop YTT-300 Hour Q&A

The recent Tula Institute Get the Scoop session for the upcoming 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training in attainable and sustainable yoga was a fun and informative meeting with many great questions. For those of you that were interested but were not able to attend I have shared some of those questions and answers below:

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How’s your movement diet?

We all know that our health benefits from moving and being active. Typically movement guidelines for health and fitness address frequency, duration, intensity, and mode. Click here to see the US Government Physical Activity Guidelines. This information is quite informative and offers the opportunity to customize your activities to your needs and interests.

Based on my experience and observations as a Physical Therapist, Yoga Therapist, and a human being living in a human body, I would like to recommend that everyone incorporate the following ten movement nutrients into their daily movement diet. (Please note that if you have a health concern, you should speak with your healthcare provider first.)

Continue reading How’s your movement diet?

Don’t Hibernate, Invigorate!

This winter, feed your fire for vigor and vitality.

During the coldest months of the year, it can be tempting to cozy up next to the fire and not venture out again until the weather warms. For many of us, our internal flame of motivation can begin to burn a bit low this a time of year. However, since hibernation is not a natural state for humans it is important that we feed our fire, so that come spring we don’t regret those hours of chillin’ the winter away. The yogic principle of Tapas supports us in cultivating the inner flame that motivates us.

Tapas is one of the Niyamas, or observances, of yoga. The literal translation for tapas is “heat” or “fire.” In the yogic context, it is self-discipline or the determination that fires us up to attain our goals and dreams. You can think of it as the inner flame that keeps you moving forward even when don’t feel like it. It makes you floss when you’d rather not. It encourages you to keep going, or to change course, to help cultivate the life you want. Without Tapas or self-discipline, we might simply slow down to a grinding halt and hibernate our lives away.

So, how will you keep your fire, or tapas, burning brightly this winter? Here are six steps for fueling your fire: (I have included examples for promoting a greater sense of ease and peace in my life.)

1) Visualization – Visualize your heart’s desire or the next step to fulfilling your life’s purpose. Don’t be shy or timid, think big!

My heart’s desire is to reside in a place of peace and ease when things outside of my control are stormy.

2) Intention – Set an intention, a clear course of action that you plan to follow to realize your heart’s desire or life’s purpose. It may be helpful to write your intention down or share it with someone.

To support greater peace and ease in my life, I will foster a daily meditation practice.

3) Affirmation – Affirmation is a powerful tool that can support action and actually result in changes in the activity of your nervous system. Formulate a simple, positive statement in the present tense supporting your intention. Write it down and post it somewhere where you will see it every day, and repeat it to yourself at least daily for 30 days or more.

Through daily meditation, I experience peace and ease in all parts of my life.

4) Acknowledgement – As you set out to do the work to fulfill your intention acknowledge the challenges that you may face, and make a plan to avoid or address temptations that might keep you from following through. Pratipaksha-bhavana is a yogic discipline of cultivating the opposite and can be helpful in shifting our negative mental attitudes to positive action.

In the winter months, I like to stay in my cozy, warm bed reading longer and later, which can disrupt my morning meditation practice. Before going to bed I will set up my meditation cushion in a warm, inviting part of the house with a comfy blanket, set up a teapot and cup to start warming on my way to my cushion, and I will place any books away from my bed before falling asleep.

5) Tolerance – Practice tolerating emotional discomfort. Positive action is not always fun or comfortable, and it is easy to change courses as soon as you begin to experience resistance or discomfort. Practice being comfortable with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. As soon as you experience discomfort around carrying out your intention, take a moment to come back to your visualization, intention, and affirmation, and reignite your flame for positive change.

I dislike the feeling of being cool after getting out of my warm bed in the morning. I will practice inviting thoughts and feelings of warmth and comfort as I get out of bed coming back to my intention of experiencing ease and peace.

6) Repetition – Self-discipline and positive action are all about repetition. Whatever your intention or planned course of action is, repeat, repeat, repeat. If your flame starts to sputter, or you stray from your intention, exercise compassion. Recognize what may have dampened your fire, use this as a learning opportunity, and move on perhaps with even greater resolve!

I will commit to my morning meditation practice five days a week. When I skip a day, I will compassionately explore why I was unable to keep my commitment that day and make an action plan to refuel my commitment.

The yogic practices of asana (postures), pranayama (breath work), Tapas (self-discipline), and meditation are all high-grade fuels to feed your fire. What other fuels can you use to feed your fire?

Fuel Your Fire Yoga

“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” B.K.S. Iyengar

Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc., is a physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.

You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, Instagram and .