Yin Yoga – The Other Half of Yoga

By Guest writer:  Niki Venter MSW, RYT-200

Yin Yoga classes are offered with Niki at Posabilities on Fridays, 4:30 – 5:30 PM

It has frequently been asked what is Yin yoga and how is it different from regular yoga?

Yin YogaYin yoga is sometimes referred to as “the other half of yoga” when considering our practice of yoga postures (also known as asana practice). That being said, the posture practice that many people are most familiar with can be considered yang yoga, which is a more active and heating style of yoga. Yang yoga targets the muscles, building strength, balance, and flexibility, and creating greater energy and vitality to the body, mind, and spirit. Yin yoga, equally important, is a more meditative form of yoga that targets the deeper tissues of the body including the connective tissues, bones, and joints. Connective tissues targeted are ligaments, tendons, fascia, and cartilage. Yin targets the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and the lower spine. In addition to the physical benefits, Yin yoga provides an increased state of calm and ease for the body, mind, and spirit.

What’s the benefit of targeting these deeper tissues through Yin Yoga?

Did you know that roughly 47% of the resistance to flexibility occurs in our connective tissues while about 41% occurs in our muscles? Without getting too technical, our connective tissues work as a network to bind, support, connect, and protect all the other tissues throughout our body. As we age our connective tissues can become overly dense and compacted, trapping toxins within the cells, resulting in decreased flexibility and range of motion. The good news is that yoga, yin yoga, in particular, can help to lengthen, strengthen, rehydrate, and decompress these networks of tissue, creating spaciousness, releasing built up toxins, and bringing greater health and vitality to the connective tissues.

Due to differences in fluid content, connective tissue generally is not as flexible as muscle tissue. To lengthen and strengthen our connective tissues stretches need to be held for a longer period. Because of this Yin yoga poses are held anywhere from one minute on, with an average duration of three to four minutes.  In Yin, it is not how deep you go in a pose but how long you hold the pose that creates the benefit. For younger people the practice of Yin Yoga can help maintain their youthful tissues and minimize, or reduce, any damage that has occurred due to injury. For the older person, Yin yoga can reverse and slow down the bodies aging process at a cellar level. But you don’t need to know all this to be convinced of the benefits of Yin, you need only to feel the results of a practice to know something good is going on inside.

So how do we practice Yin?

In a Yin yoga practice, you slowly relax into the poses, which are usually seated or lying down on your mat, allowing the muscles to be soft as you explore your individual edge, or stopping point. Each person’s stopping point will be different therefore each person’s pose will look different.  Similar to the more yang practices we allow the breath to guide us and move the prana (vital energy) around the body. Through focus and attention to our individual edge, we develop a calm state and a sharpening of awareness at all levels of our being. Gradually, over time, as the body rejuvenates, the tissues lengthen and become more spacious and flexibility increases allowing a greater range of motion and ease of movement. I have had students tell me that the day after a yin class they experience, “a greater sense of well-being.”

I have experienced first hand the benefits of a consistent Yin practice and am so excited to share this practice with my students. Remember like all yoga practices if you have any physical limitations you should check with your doctor or you can contact us here at Posabilities. Together with a balanced practice of both yin and yang styles, I feel yoga is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Yoga nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. I hope to see you all on your mat. Sending Love. Namaste – Niki Venter

Niki VenterAbout Niki:

Niki Venter MSW, RYT-200 has completed a number of advanced yoga training in both Yin Yoga and alignment based yoga and teaches Gentle and Yin Yoga classes at Posabilities.  Niki enjoys sharing the practice of Yoga with her students and feels that Yoga prepares you for all of life mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  She is eager to share this with all who attend her classes.

Connect with Posabilities on Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Shake Your Soul – The Healing Power of Play in Movement

By Kathryn Gardner RYT, LMT

Yoga DanceShake Your Soul® – the Yoga of Dance – is a movement practice that relaxes your nervous system, energizes your body, and awakens your soul through a powerful, fluid dance repertoire set to world music.

When I first walked into a yoga dance class at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, I was curious and nervous. A friend had told me I had to try it; she said I’d have a blast and feel worked over and enlivened by the class. The instructor told us not to worry about “getting the moves right” but to focus on the bubbling up of our creative spirit. He talked about feeling the music in the body and moving spontaneously in response to the moves he would offer.

Slowly my nervousness dissolved as the music and repertoire moved from flowing and sweet, through playful and bouncy, to sensual and soulful. My whole body smiled – I was playing like a little girl again. Worries about how I looked, what others might think, that this was a silly activity with no tangible goal – began slipping away.

Lately, the research about the benefits of play has been getting some press. We’re discovering that not only is play necessary for children as they grow and develop, but that adults need unstructured, non-goal-oriented fun as well. Engaging in regular playful activities has been linked to stress relief, increased brain functioning, improved relationships and a deeper sense of joy in life.

Dan Leven, the creator of Shake Your Soul and founder of LIFE Movement, believes that connecting playfully to music and movement brings us closer to our creative spirit, opening up space in all aspects of our daily lives. “Whether you’re teaching a class, writing a business plan, talking with a friend, working with a client, writing an e-mail, being with your children—whatever the activity is, it can be infused with the spirit of creativity.” That spirit of creativity comes from letting go of the thinking, judging mind. It springs from those spaces between our thoughts when we are connecting directly with the present moment.

Shake Your Soul brings the present moment alive. Each class follows a dance repertoire based on the fluids within our bodies that awaken our natural dancer. Dynamic and organic class sequences feel great to the body and free the spirit. As an instructor, my goal is to create a sweaty, sacred space where you are supported to connect with your creative energy, moving between my movements and the impulse of your soul.

As I learned in my training with Leven, Shake Your Soul supports people back into the fullness of body connection. “As we lead people toward their embodied joy, their spirits are welcomed back into the cells of their muscles, organs, and body.”

Looking back at that first class at Kripalu, it’s easy to see how I fell in love with this practice, and I’m grateful to my friend for encouraging me. Those soulful songs gave way to Indian and African rhythms, and the class drew to a close with soft sounds of the flute. Hands on heart, eyes soft, I felt a deep peace. We were connected as a community of dancers, and I was home again – grounded in my body, and joyful in my bones.

Kathryn Gardner, LMT, RYT-200Kathryn Gardner, RYT, LMT is a certified Yoga Dance teacher and loves teaching yoga and meditation and providing massage at Posabilities. Learn more about her in the About Us section, and click here to check the schedule for class times.

Understanding Yoga Therapy

A one-on-one complementary alternative medical approach to health and healing.

PeaceYoga Therapy, or yoga chikitsa, is an ancient therapeutic adaptation of yoga used to suit the condition of the individual to help address suffering (dukha) at all levels of the being. This approach to health and healing has gradually evolved, and modern day Yoga Therapy functions independently, as well as a complementary approach to allopathic medicine (modern day western medicine), in supporting health and healing. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) defines Yoga Therapy as the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga.

Western Medicine, or allopathic, practitioners, such as Doctors, Nurses, Physical Therapists, etc., focus on diseases and injuries, and their cures. Yoga Therapists may also work in a curative direction, the primary focus of Yoga Therapy is to work with the individual who has the disease — helping them find greater balance at the levels of the mind, body, and spirit to help reduce suffering. Through the thoughtful and intelligent application of Yoga practices, individuals can gain insight and confidence in the fact that they can improve their condition through their actions. In most cases, this is not a substitute for medical attention, but a complementary approach to improve outcomes at all levels of the being.

Yoga Therapists typically consider the five koshas of the individual including the physical body, the energy body (breath body), emotional body, wisdom or witness body, and the spiritual or bliss body with the understanding that imbalances in any of these layers can result in disease and suffering. A variety of yogic practices, including asana (postures), breath work (pranayama), meditation, intention setting, and affirmations may be utilized to promote greater balance at any of these layers. My Yoga Therapy teacher, Joseph Le Page, M.A., Integrative Yoga Therapy, defines Yoga Therapy as the “facet of the ancient science of Yoga that focuses on health and wellness at all levels of the person: physical, psychological, and spiritual. Yoga therapy focuses on the path of Yoga as a healing journey that brings balance to the body and mind through an experiential understanding of the primary intention of Yoga: Awakening of Spirit, our essential nature.”

Recently the International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT) set standards for accrediting Yoga Therapy training programs. These programs must meet standards including at least 600 hours of advanced Yoga Therapy training. Beginning the summer of 2016, the association will begin certifying individual Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT). The basic standards for this certification will be graduation from an accredited Yoga Therapy program.

I have been fortunate enough to study Yoga Therapy through Integrative Yoga Therapy, which is an accredited Yoga Therapy Program. I have completed my initial 500 hundred hours of training, and will be grandfathered in as a C-IAYT when the certification process begins. Despite my opportunity to be grandfathered, I continue my Yoga Therapy training to meet the highest standards and expect to complete this process by November 2016. As a professional Physical Therapist of 20+ years, I feel so fortunate to have discovered this complementary therapy, and to be able to make it available to the residents of the Oxford Hills of Maine.

By Katey Hawes, owner and founder of Posabilities, Inc., physical therapist, registered yoga teacher, and yoga therapist.  You may find her at Facebook.com/posabilities4u, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Transitioning with Ease


Fall is the season of transition from summer to winter. This transitional season can bring up a variety of thoughts and feelings including melancholy, abundance, gratitude, and turning inwards. Just as the seasons are constantly changing, life is also a series of frequent changes. The seasons can be metaphors for life transitions:  Fall representing the end of one stage or phase, winter the pause or space between the end of one thing and the beginning of another, spring the beginning of something new, and summer the evolution of that change. The four sounds of the AUM that we frequently chant as part of our yoga practice can also be metaphors for life transitions. The sound “A” representing creation, “U” preservation, “M” transformation, and the silence at the end of the AUM the space that allows the opportunity for awakening to our bliss or true essence.

Just as the trees shedding their leaves signifies the end of summer and the beginning of fall, when we face life transitions we shed old patterns and routines to make space for transformation.

Here are some tips for transitioning with ease:

RITUAL – Experiment with rituals that resonate with you that can help you close the door on the past and open the door to your future. Rituals that you may consider for the fall transition may include celebrating the harvest, getting out and about to take in the foliage, or planting bulbs as you look forward to the next year.

LET GO – Once you have honored the passage from the past to the future through some form of ritual, complete any unfinished business that remains, and then allow yourself to move forward by letting go of the past. As fall arrives, you can embrace the concept of letting go by cleaning house, putting away your summer toys, tools, and clothes, and giving away what you no longer need.

SURRENDER – Give in to any feelings that arise from transitions. Rather than avoiding feelings that occur naturally (positive or negative) allow yourself to feel them completely. Through surrender, we can open up to rebirth. Fall can bring about many feelings. If you are feeling melancholy, ambivalent, or joyous about the transition of the season, don’t try to change or ignore these feelings, simply let them be, and observe them with a gentle curiosity.

YOGA – Through our yoga practice we prepare ourselves to transition with equanimity and ease. As we flow through postures, we practice smooth mindful transitions and use our breath to stay present with our current circumstance rather than residing in the past. We complete each practice with Savasana, or corpse pose, where we surrender to what is. Our chanting of AUM reminds us that life is cyclical and ever changing.

So, please join me in offering a fond adieu to summer, and offering fall a heartfelt welcome!

“Life is one big transition.” ~ Willie Stargell

PosabilitiesBy 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, and .

Reiki? What is that?

By Susan Kane, M.Ed

When I tell people I am a Reiki Practitioner and a Reiki Master Teacher, I often get the response, “Reiki? What is that?” And, then I start sharing my understanding and passion for this gentle healing art with them, as I am going to do now with you, Dear Reader.

Ray – Key. That is how R-e-i-k-i is pronounced.  Reiki is a form of energy healing. The goal of Reiki is to heal, harmonize and balance. The energy is accessed by the practitioner from the universe to the client. In this way, Reiki acts as a jump-start to activate one’s own healing. You may have heard of other forms of energy healing as well, such as Polarity Therapy, Acupuncture, and Therapeutic Touch, to name a few. Reiki is different from other healing modalities in two basic ways. One is the use of Reiki symbols during a treatment.  Second, is the way Reiki is taught. There are three levels of learning: Reiki 1; Reiki 2; and Reiki 3. Classes are usually 6 hours long, and, therefore, it is possible to learn Reiki in a day. Training provides the tools for one to become an effective Reiki practitioner and one’s effectiveness evolves with time as experience with Reiki energy is gained. There is no tests or state licensing required; instead the trainee receives an attunement at each level from the teacher. The attunement activates the Reiki energy to begin flowing.

Recipients of Reiki have described it many different ways. You lie on a massage table, completely dressed. The practitioner moves their hands from your head down to the feet, first on the front and then the back. Most find this experience warm and calming. Some say it feels tingly. Reiki slows down the body so that you can breathe deeper. Sometimes clients drop into a light sleep as they receive the energy. (Almost all people I work with tell me their sleep improves for days after a session.) Any physical pain or anxiety you may be carrying with you as you enter the treatment room, soon dissipates after the session begins. After a treatment, many describe a feeling of Reiki Bliss, a wonderful state of well-being, empowering you to tackle any challenge you face from a place of balance.

Susan KaneMaybe you are interested in experiencing a Reiki session for yourself, or perhaps you want to learn Reiki for self-care (Reiki 1), or you are already a level 1 practitioner and want to deepen your practice. Whatever your Reiki need or interest may be, I am very happy to offer my services to the Posabilities Community.  Reiki Blessings!   Susan

Click here to learn more about Susan and her services.

“It” Happens

shutterestock-purchased-keep calm

Flatulence, passing gas, tooting, farting. “It” happens to all of us. And, if you attend yoga class regularly it is sure to happen to you during class at some point. In fact, most individuals pass gas between 10-20 times a day. In a one hour practice, there is at least a 50% chance that you will fart during class. You can also be assured that you will not be the only one and that there will most likely be other folks that are silently suffering trying to hold theirs in. Seriously, how many times are you told to release, relax, let it go during a yoga class? It’s bound to happen!

Does Yoga promote tooting? It may, and some poses definitely do.  Remember you are doing many forward folds, twists, and movements that massage the digestive tract that may help move things along. Also, many of us practice Yoga to relieve stress and tension in our lives and our bodies. When you are experiencing stress or tension your sympathetic system, or fight or flight system, becomes more active compromising the healthy function of the digestive system. When you practice Yoga, you bring the nervous system into better balance supporting the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system, supporting healthy functioning of the digestive tract and system.

PavanamuktasanaPavanmuktasana (Supine Knee-to-Chest Pose), also known as wind relieving or wind liberating pose, is a great pose to help relieve the build up of gas in the intestines. I do not remember a class where I have offered this pose and some one did not pass gas. In fact, when some one farts in class, as an instructor, I experience some sense of satisfaction, knowing that the yoga is doing what it’s supposed to do.

So what should you do if you pass gas during a yoga class? Simply remain calm, and carry on. It’s not a big deal. You may even want to revel in the fact that you have successfully relaxed, released, and let it go.

PosabilitiesKatey 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, and .

Physical Therapy Factoids

PT ServicesThere are many events, situations, and conditions that can keep us from feeling healthy and whole.  At Posabilities we offer a variety of healing modalities.  In this post we will focus on Physical Therapy services offered by Katey Hawes, MS, PT.

Physical therapy is a therapeutic intervention where the Physical Therapist (PT) and patient or client work in partnership to address physical impairments and promote mobility, function, and quality of life through assessment, care planning, education, and physical interventions.

Education and credentials: Physical Therapists (PTs) are licensed and have received at least a Bachelor’s degree. These days most PT’s have a Masters degree in Physical Therapy, and all training programs are now at the Doctor of Physical Therapy level.  Some practices and facilities also utilize Physical Therapy Assistants (PTAs).  PTAs have completed at least a two year associate’s degree program and are also licensed by the state.  PTAs are supervised by PTs, who do all evaluations and set up the plan of care which the PTA then follows.

Direct access – In Maine, you do not need a physician’s referral to be evaluated or treated by a Physical Therapist.  Some insurances may require a physician’s referral or approval of the PT plan of care, so check with your insurance company.  Medicare patients can be evaluated without a physician’s referral; however, the PT’s plan of care will have to be approved and signed by your physician (the PT should send this to your physician and get the needed authorizations.)

Freedom of choice – Your primary health care provider may suggest that you pursue Physical Therapy and may suggest where you go for your Physical Therapy.  You have the right to choose your Physical Therapist, and you are not obligated to receive Physical Therapy in any particular facility.  These days many health care systems are encouraging providers to refer within the system where they work.  If your health care provider is recommending a particular PT or PT practice, ask them to clarify their reasoning.  It is your choice where you receive your PT services.  You should choose a PT that you can easily communicate with, that you trust and is convenient for you to see.

Physical therapy costs and treatments vary – When selecting a Physical Therapist or PT practice ask what the typical charge is per PT session, what the typical length of each session is, and, if you have insurance, what your co-pay or co-insurance may be.  Insurance companies negotiate different prices with different PT practices and facilities.  If you are paying out of pocket, have a high deductible, or co-insurance costs this is important information.  Even if you don’t pay more out of pocket for higher cost services, these costs may eventually trickle down to you in future premiums, co-pays, co-insurances, and deductibles.  Despite the fact that a practice may be out of network for you, with prompt payment discounts and longer treatment sessions you may be able to save some money.

What to expect – At your first visit your PT will evaluate you and your primary complaints to identify current and potential problems.  Based on these findings, and your personal goals, your PT will set up a plan of care including specific interventions, goals, and an estimated time table to meet your goals.  You will probably be given instructions and home work to support you between your PT visits.  You should be comfortable asking your PT any questions regarding your care including planned interventions and goals.  Also, when shopping around for a Physical Therapist or PT practice, you should ask whether you will be seen by the same PT each visit or if this will vary.

Physical Therapy at Posabilities

Katey Hawes, MS, PT, RYT is the owner and operator of Posabilities and is the sole Physical Therapist.  Katey has over 20 years of experience as a Physical Therapist and has her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University.  Katey has experience working with a variety of patient populations and problems from infants to centurions.  Physical Therapy sessions at Posabilities are booked to allow up to 60 minutes of treatment, and every visit is with Katey.  Posabilities is a preferred provider with a variety of insurances and bills your insurance directly for services provided.  Posabilities also offers a prompt payment discount for those whose sessions are not covered by insurance and are paying privately.  In her treatments, Katey strives to provide:

  • A balance of manual techniques to help your body find greater alignment,
  • Education to help you understand how your body functions, where your imbalances may be coming from,
  • Homework and home exercises to help you manage your challenges independently between PT visits and after you have completed your course of Physical Therapy.

PosabilitiesIf you have questions about Physical Therapy services at Posabilities or wish to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us 207-743-0930 or email posabilities4u@gmail.com. For more information on the PT services at Posabilities, click here.

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, and .

Life Balance – I want it, and I want it now!


Do you ever feel like you just can’t find that sweet spot of optimal life balance?  Like external influences just keep knocking you out of balance?  While day to day life can make this challenging, with attention and mindfulness we can return to a state of peace, harmony, and balance.  To experience and enjoy this state of greater balance, it is helpful to understand what balance is, where your balance point is, and how to go with the flow.

Some words used to describe balance are equilibrium, stability, and steadiness.  From a Physical Therapist’s point of view, postural stability or balance is defined by the center of gravity being within the base of support (more on that below in Chikitsa Chat).  The point is that balance is not static or rigid, it allows for some level of movement and fluidity.  The Empire State Building sways, mountains move, and the earth wobbles.  As Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Below are some steps to help you experience greater balance and ease in your life:

  • Find your center – Stop taking your cues from outside sources telling you what your center is or should be.  You are unique, your center resides in your true essence.  No one – not the experts, the gurus, the media, nor your closest loved ones can tell you where your center is.  Only you know that.  Quiet the distractions and take some time for quiet contemplation to discover your heart’s desire, your calling, and your bliss.
  • Expand your base of support – You can weather the outside influences that tend to push and pull you in many directions by broadening and strengthening your “base of support.”  Instead of focusing on or excelling in, one area of your life, bring attention to all areas including your physical, energetic, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being.  When you do this you will have a stronger and broader base to support yourself and your life purpose.
  • Stop being so rigid – As I mentioned, buildings sway, mountains move, the earth wobbles. When things or people become rigid or do not allow for movement, then there are only two options – perfect balance (Not sustainable) of being completely out of balance.  By releasing rigid expectations, perceptions, and attachment to rules we allow greater fluidity and ease into our lives and experience greater balance.
  • Streamline, simplify – When we become overloaded or overwhelmed we become “top heavy” making it easier to fall out of balance and making it more difficult to move back to our center.  Learn to say no – no to things, extra duties, excess baggage that do not enrich your life.  As you lighten the load, you will experience greater ease, joy, and equanimity in all aspects of your life.
  • Step out of your comfort zone – Life is not comfortable.  Throughout a lifetime, we will have many uncomfortable experiences.  The more that we practice stepping out of our comfort zone, the more prepared we are to respond to these challenging times without totally losing our balance and having to struggle to get our feet back under us.  Hang glide, strike up a conversation with a stranger, dance naked in your living room, sit in silent contemplation – anything to challenge yourself and embrace new experiences.

Lastly, if you fall out of balance, it’s OK.  Simply learn from the experience, brush yourself off, and step back into your center.

“No person, no place, and nothing has any power over us, for ‘we’ are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.” ~ Louise L. Hay

PosabilitiesBy 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, and .

What is Somatics?


thomashannaquote-1Somatics is generally understood as being an approach that addresses mind-body integration.  Pioneers in the area of Somatics were Moshe Feldenkrais and Thomas Hanna.  The term Somatics was coined by Thomas Hanna in the 1970s.

I was first introduced to Somatics during my Physical Therapy training as part of our exposure to “alternative” therapeutic techniques.  Since then I have attended Feldenkrais continuing education courses, and Hanna Somatic techniques have been an integral part of my Yoga Therapy training.  Over the years, I have enjoyed using these techniques with Physical Therapy and Yoga Therapy clients, in Therapeutic yoga classes, and for myself when I have suffered from restrictive tightness or discomfort.

The term Somatics is derived from the word somatic which pertains to awareness of the living body as it is experienced and regulated from the internal environment.  Somatics techniques strive to strengthen integration between the mind and body and to decrease restrictions within the mind and/or body.

So, you may be saying to yourself, “That all sounds great Katey, but I’m still not sure that I understand what Somatics techniques are.”  Essentially, Somatics are movement sequences that have been designed to support natural patterns of the body and mind.  These movement sequences can be performed as independent exercises or as guided movements with the supportive touch of a Somatics practitioner.  Each movement of the sequence is repeated a number of times using small, subtle motions while bringing your attention to any sensations that may arise in your body, breath, or thought patterns.  Between each movement in the sequence, you rest quietly.  Many of these sequences you can complete in 5-10 minutes.  I always encourage individuals to practice these techniques in a quiet, relaxing setting free of distractions, and at a time when they are not in a hurry to rush off to something else.  This way the full benefits of these techniques can be experienced.

Frequently people share that they are amazed how doing so little can make such a big difference.  Truly an exercise in the concept of less is more.  The benefits from Somatics can be many and varied, including:

  • photo-9Control of acute and chronic pain
  • Improved flexibility and strength
  • Increased voluntary control over habitually tight muscles
  • Enhanced mobility and coordination
  • Improved posture
  • Re-established normal breathing patterns
  • Improved balance and awareness of the position of one’s body
  • Stress relief and relaxation

Through the practice of Somatics, you can support your mind in becoming more in tune with your body, and experience growth, change, and transformation regardless of your health status or age.  If you are interested in learning more about Somatics or experiencing Somatics I would encourage you to visit the Hanna and Feldenkrais websites, find a trained Somatics practitioner in your area, or a Physical Therapist or Yoga Therapist in your area who has training in Somatics.

Less is more.” ~ Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

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, and .

What is … Yoga?

As a topic that I am passionate about, I am so glad you asked.  Before I tell you the “formal” definition of yoga, and what I believe to be true about yoga, I’d like to share some comments that I have heard from people new to yoga:

  • I’m much calmer when I do yoga.
  • Yoga is really hard.
  • Yoga is so relaxing.
  • Since starting yoga, my clothes fit better.
  • I sleep much better since starting yoga.
  • Yoga makes me happy.
  • Yoga makes me taller!
  • I need more yoga!
  • I move and feel so much better when I do yoga.
  • Yoga reminds me how to breathe.
  • I wish I had found yoga years ago. Yoga makes me happy.
  • Yoga is so chill!

The formal translation of the word Yoga, a Sanskrit term, is to unite or yoke.  This union, or yoking, can mean different things to different people.  It may mean yoking your movement to your breath, unifying to return to your true essence, finding union with the divine.  According to the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, one of the ancient texts of yoga, yoga is the stilling of the changing states of mind.

Yoga originated in India, and can be dated back to at least 3000 B.C.  Yoga first became widely recognized in the US when Swami Vivekananda presented at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.  Today, when most Americans think of Yoga they think of Hatha Yoga.  However, there many different forms or systems of yoga including:

  • Hatha Yoga – a system of physical postures, or asanas, whose higher purpose is to purify the body, giving one awareness and control over its internal states and rendering it fit for meditation.
  • Karma Yoga – selfless service to others as part of one’s larger Self, without attachment to the results.
  • Mantra Yoga – centering the consciousness within, through the repetition of certain universal root-word sounds representing a particular aspect of Spirit.
  • Bhakti Yoga – all-surrendering devotion through which one strives to see and love the divinity in every creature and in everything.
  • Jnana (Gyana) Yoga – the path of wisdom, which emphasizes the application of discriminative intelligence to achieve spiritual liberation.
  • Raja Yoga – is concerned principally with furthering one’s acquaintance with reality, achieving awakening, and eventually enlightenment using a succession of steps including meditation and contemplation.  The principal text of Raja yoga is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

While most of us recognize Yoga as a physical practice of Yoga postures, or asanas, this is just one aspect of yoga.  Historically, the end goal of Yoga is to reach a state of universal consciousness.  Pantanjali outlined a series of steps to attain this state of enlightenment.  These steps are known as Patanjali’s Eightfold Path of Yoga. and is the practice of:

  • Yama (restraints):  noninjury to others, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness
  • Niyama (observances):  purity of body and mind, contentment in all circumstances, self-discipline, self-study (contemplation), and devotion to God and guru
  • Asana:  right posture
  • Pranayama:  control of prana, the subtle life currents in the body
  • Pratyahara:  interiorization through withdrawal of the senses from external objects
  • Dharana:  focused concentration; holding the mind to one thought or object
  • Dhyana:  meditation, absorption in the vast perception of God in one of His infinite aspects — Bliss, Peace, Cosmic Light, Cosmic Sound, Love, Wisdom, etc. — all-pervading throughout the whole universe
  • Samadhi:  superconscious experience of the oneness of the individualized soul with Cosmic Spirit.

Ok, so I’ve told you what other people say about yoga, what the scholars and texts say about yoga, and now it is time to share with you what I believe to be true regarding yoga.

intro-to-yogaI believe that yoga is a tool that can be used to bring greater balance in areas of your life that may be experiencing some level of imbalance, and help you deepen and enrich your life experience.  If you hope to improve your physical health, then yoga can help you do that.  If you are seeking greater emotional balance or stability, yoga is an excellent tool.  If you are seeking greater energetic balance or improved breathing then look no further.  Yoga is also a powerful tool to help focus or quiet the mind.  And, finally, if you seek to deepen your spiritual experience, yoga can help you become more fully open to whatever it is that you hold true.  However, please be forewarned that as you begin practicing yoga for one reason, you may find yourself opening up to and seeking growth in other unexpected areas.  My personal experience has been one of coming to yoga as a physical outlet while I was laid up with an injury and then finding that, with regular practice, I began to experience a greater sense of peacefulness.  I also became less scatter brained and open to other people’s life experiences and how they express themselves.  I now feel the healthiest and strongest I have ever felt in my life!

In a nutshell, I like to compare yoga to compost.  Whatever the imbalances in your soil, correctly used, compost can balance and improve your soil, making it healthier and more fertile.  Yoga can help bring greater depth and balance to your life experience.

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”  ~ The Bhagavad Gita

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, and .

Physical Therapy | Yoga | Wellness in Norway, Maine