Category Archives: Weekly Blog

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.

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, 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, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

What is … Yoga Therapy?

The topic of last week’s “What is” blog was Physical Therapy.  Most people are somewhat familiar with Physical Therapy, but Yoga Therapy is much less familiar.  I have to admit, I didn’t even know that Yoga Therapy existed as a discipline until two years ago!  Although Yoga Therapy is fairly new on the scene in the Western World, it is gaining more and more recognition in the medical community.

Yoga was first introduced to the US in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda.  A little less than 100 years after that Yoga Therapy became recognized in the United States with Dr. Dean Ornish’s study that showed that therapeutic yoga, meditation, dietary changes, and other lifestyle changes could reverse the effects of heart disease.  Dr. Ornish’s “Program for Reversing Heart Disease” got approved for health insurance coverage in 1990, and it opened the door for yoga therapy gradually to make its way into mainstream medicine.

So, what is Yoga Therapy?  According to one of my Yoga Therapy teachers, Joseph LePage, M.A., “Yoga therapy is that 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.”  (Integrative Yoga Therapy (U.S.A.), Joseph LePage, M.A.)  

OK… So, what are the differences between Yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Physical Therapy?

This is not a simple question to answer, but I will try my best using the table below.

Yoga Yoga Therapy Physical Therapy
Systems addressed May address physical, psychological, and spiritual levels of the student. Addresses the 5  Koshas – Physical body, energetic/breath body, emotional body, wisdom/ witness body, and bliss body or the essence of the individual. Addresses primarily the physical body – with a focus on the musculoskeletal & neurological systems, may incorporate breath work in support of the physical systems.
Techniques used In the US primarily Yoga postures/ Asanas, as well as breath work/pranayama, relaxation, & meditation. Yoga postures/Asanas, somatics, breath work/ pranayama, techniques to direct energy including mudras, self inquiry with the support of yogic texts, relaxation, meditation, and yoga nidra. Hands on manual techniques, physical agents to address pain and inflammation, education, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular retraining, functional retraining.
Approaches Classes or sessions that may be centered on a specific intention such as hip openers, strengthening the core, quieting the neurological system, etc. Guided self inquiry –  support of an inquiry of where imbalances may reside, and how to bring greater support to the self as whole to decrease pain and suffering. Hands on techniques, modalities, education, and prescriptive home exercises/ activities to decrease pain and increase function

So, which is the right one for me?  

This does not need to be an either/or proposition.  Any of these approaches can stand alone, or complement the other.  Additionally, I did not discuss the role of Yoga Therapy in addressing psycho emotional challenges.  Yoga Therapy may also be beneficial in addressing depression and anxiety.  If you are unsure of the appropriate approach for you, discuss this with a trusted health and well being professional.

If I am interested in Yoga Therapy, how do I find a Yoga Therapist?  

Currently, there are no regulations around who can claim to be a Yoga Therapist, so buyer beware.  This may soon be changing though.  The International Association of Yoga therapists has passed requirements for Yoga Therapy training programs including an additional 600 hours of training beyond the initial 200 hours of teacher training.  (  If you are considering a Yoga Therapist ask them where they received their training, and then check out that program.  As in any profession, credentials don’t guarantee anything except that an individual has met minimum requirements of training and education.  Beyond that, talk with the therapist that you are considering and look for reliable references to ensure they will be a good fit for you.

kt-photo-300-frameOK Katey, so what is your training?  

After completing my 200 hour yoga teacher training, I completed one months worth of intense Yoga Therapy training through Integrative Yoga Therapy  (  I am preparing to begin my final stage to receive my initial 500 hour PYT (Professional Yoga Therapist Certification) and then will continue on to complete my 1,000 hours of training as a Yoga and Yoga Therapy professional.  I know that to some of you Yoga Therapy may sound a bit fluffy, but I can assure you that after 20 years of practice as a Physical Therapy,  I was amazed and impressed with the depth of knowledge and teaching that was provided in my training.  I feel very strongly that my abilities as a Physical Therapist have been boosted by my Yoga Therapy training, just as much as I feel that my Physical Therapy background has supported and strengthened my abilities as a Yoga Therapist.  I truly feel blessed by the lineage and professionalism in both of these fields.

The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”  ~ Plato

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

What is … Physical Therapy?

For the next several weeks I will be offering a “What is?” series of blogs.  There is power in knowledge and understanding.  My hope is that by offering this “what is?” series I can offer the support needed for individuals to open to opportunities to increase their sense of control over their current situations – whatever those may be.  This week, I would like to start with letting you know about Physical Therapy.

So, what is Physical Therapy?  

Physical Therapy is a healthcare profession that dates back to the time of Hippocrates and is dedicated to treating the nervous and musculoskeletal systems to help individuals maximize their functional independence.  Physical therapy is provided in a variety of settings from the hospital and nursing home, to outpatient and athletic settings, and may be provided to individuals all the way through the life span from newborns to individuals 100+.

How do you know if you need, or could benefit from, physical therapy?  If you are experiencing functional deficits due to pain, weakness, decreased flexibility, poor balance or coordination, or other neurological or musculoskeletal imbalances you may benefit from Physical Therapy.  Functional deficits may relate to decreased ability to participate in occupational and day to day activities, as well decreased ability to find positions of comfort, to concentrate, or to sleep.

What happens when you receive Physical Therapy?  

At your first visit your Physical Therapist will evaluate you and set up a treatment plan that will include functional outcomes or goals, planned interventions, and the anticipated frequency and duration of treatment.  Treatment sessions may include education, soft tissue work or manual techniques, modalities (such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, infrared), and almost always exercises to help improve strength, flexibility, endurance, and/or postural awareness.  Frequently you will be given a home exercise program as part of your “homework.”

What can I expect from Physical Therapy at Posabilities?  

With 20 years of experience as a Physical Therapist I recognize that every individual’s body, imbalances or injuries, and healing processes are different, so I take the time to gain an understanding of your body, your issues, and what approaches will work best for you.  My focus is generally on education, improving movement and holding patterns that may have become dysfunctional, and bringing balance back to the body through specific exercises and activities that you can practice at home between visits and after you have completed therapy.  I use manual techniques and other approaches as needed to help support you in your self healing.  With the increasing number of individuals with high deductibles, high co-pays, or no insurance my intention is to remain flexible, and to provide you with a “tool box” to support your own health and healing as much as possible.

How do I get started with Physical Therapy at Posabilities?  

photo (3)Maine is a direct access state, so you do not need a physician’s referral to be evaluated and treated by a Physical Therapist.  However, your insurance may require a physician’s order for PT services to be covered.  If you are interested in Physical Therapy services you can call or email me and we can set up an initial PT assessment.  You can expect your first assessment to last 45-60 minutes.

Thank you for reading my first “what is?” blog.  If you have other topics that you would like me to cover in this series please let me know.  Next week… “What is Yoga Therapy?”

Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”  ~ Plato

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Moola What?

By Julie Zeitz Beddie

I vividly remember the first time I was sitting in a yoga class and I heard the term “Moola (sometimes spelled Mula) Bandah”.  I was feeling confused but I followed along as I did whenever I heard other unfamiliar Sanskrit names that I was learning about.  However, I found the bandah terms rather elusive.  At first I longed for something more tangible to hold onto; like the asana poses so that I could see it on the outside to make sure I was doing it right.  I kept wondering if what I was feeling was correct or honestly if I was even feeling the bandahs when I was instructed to engage them.  I wondered if I looked different on the outside, or if the teacher could tell if I was using them.  Then after practicing and going through these motions something began to change and my practice began to shift.

As I practiced more, and learned more about the bandahs, I realized what I can now say to be true.  First, the bandahs are elusive and hard to pin down and there are a lot of different views on what they can do for your yoga practice, your body, and your mind. There are also many different views about when and if they should be taught, to whom, and in what way.  Second, after confirming my hunch around their subtle actions, I have also come to understand that although they are vague and somewhat mysterious, they are very real and worth exploring within your own body.

As I went through the motions of following the bandah activation instruction given by my teachers, what I began to notice were the times when I was not using them.  It was in these moments of silence, or absence of the bandahs, that I began to understand the connection to this energy and the lightness that it brings to my own practice.  So, the journey with the bandahs is like any yoga posture or class you find yourself in; it will be unique to you.  Since each pose looks slightly different on the outside for all of us, I believe that our connection to the root lock of our energy may be somewhat similar in action but yet uniquely our own experience.  I will do my best to explain the subtle concepts behind these terms.  I hope that you will begin to explore your own experience of their meaning and connection to yourself, and your practice of yoga.

The term “Bandah” is a Sanskrit word that is often defined as a closing off, locking, or holding back of something.  There are three most discussed bandahs; moolah (mula), uddiyana, and jalandara bandahs.  Sometimes you may also hear about maha bandah, hasta bandah, and pada bandah.

For the purpose of this explanation I will focus on the bandahs that I am most familiar with and include in my own practice and teaching.  Imagine that you have this pranic energy within your body that flows through you in a vertical channel.  When you activate mula bandah you are, in essence, closing off or sealing the end of this channel to allow the flow of energy to move upward to support you and your practice.  In doing this it begins to create a lightness of energy while simultaneously toning the deep muscles.  Instead of letting our energy flow down and out of us we build up this energy force within us to help sustain us.  This is what helps us float in and out of poses, hold poses longer, and increase our energy during a class.

Mula Bandah:  To locate Mula Bandah we let our attention and breath come into the pelvic floor.  We are trying to isolate the perineum area known as the “root lock.”  To begin to find and isolate this location can be difficult at first, so we connect with Ashwini mudra (which is the contraction of the anal sphincter muscles), and Vajroli mudra (the contraction of the urogenital muscles).  In contracting these muscles we begin to isolate the perineum.  Another way to think about this is that you really have to go to the bathroom and there is not a restroom around.  This action of engaging these muscles to avoid having an accident begins to help us find Mula Bandah.  Remember to breathe in this situation to connect to increasing our pranic flow.

Uddiyana bandah: To locate Uddiyana bandah we let our attention draw to the navel.  In Sanskrit, “uddiyana” is defined as to fly up or to rise up. So we take the energy from mula bandah and allow it to rise up further by drawing the navel back toward the back spine, lifting up underneath the lower rib band.  Connecting Uddiyana from Mula Bandah can give us extra oomph in our Vinyasa flow which makes it more effortless.

Hasta Bandah: To locate Hasta bandah we get in touch with a suction feeling through the palms of our hands.  Because most poses can place weight onto our hands and wrists we want to create a sense of grounding down, but lifting and lightness through our arms. We want to place weight into the hands through the fingers, and then imagine suction under the palm with little weight being born on the heel of the hand.  Imagine the energy drawing up the arms.

Pada Bandah: To locate Pada Bandah we draw our attention down to our feet.  Similarly with our hands, we want to create grounding-down and lifting-up action.  Begin standing in Tadasana and feel rooted down into the earth.  Lift and spread the toes and ground down the big toe, then the other toes slowly until you can feel all 4 corners of the feet.  Feel behind the big toe mound where the arch begins; lift up, move your fingers or attention back to the middle of the arch to lift and then back to where the arch meets the sole of the foot and heel. Once activated, it is then lifted or sucked up the legs to eventually meet up with Mula Bandah.

When we activate these bandahs we are increasing blood flow to deep muscles and organs.  In return, we are connecting to the corresponding chakras in the body.  There are muscular, endocrine, nervous system, pranic, and mental health benefits. As we are redirecting our energy upward we can begin to see the body as a beautiful and complex matrix of energy.  As we learn and practice the bandahs they are a vehicle for our own growth and development both on and off the mat.  We begin to use them throughout our entire yoga class and create a sense of lightness, ease, and focus for our practice.  We all may be drawn to the bandahs for different reasons; it may be to build fire within your belly, and to burn impurities, and get a great looking abdomen; or maybe it is to help calm your nervous system and create some lightness in your practice particularly during these hot summer months.  Whatever the reason, I hope that you will begin to explore some of the many benefits that can come with adding some bandah action to your life.

(*As with all new practice one should consult their healthcare provider before beginning.)

There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it.” ~Elizabeth A. Behnke

Julie Zeitz Beddie, B.A., M.S.W, L.C.S.W.
Julie Zeitz Beddie, B.A., M.S.W, L.C.S.W.

Julie discovered a love of dance and movement early in her life.  This led to exploration of yoga asana and self inquiry.  Julie followed a desire to understand the connection between the mind and body, and our universal interdependence.  She has worked over 20 years in the mental health field, obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, OH and a Masters of Social Work at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. Julie completed her 200 hour teacher training in June 2009 through Elemental Yoga in Boston, Mass., with Bo Forbes.   Yoga has been a vehicle for Julie’s own healing journey and she loves being able to assist people in finding the deep healing that yoga can bring to one’s mind, body and spirit.

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Stretching Beyond the Comfort Zone

ohyogainstructorsOn Friday, June 7, OH Yoga! at Posabilities Yoga Instructors offered a community yoga practice to an inspiring group of individuals who were willing to venture out on a rainy Friday evening.  You may ask, “What made these folks so inspiring?”  They were coming to a free community yoga class.  What’s the big deal?

The majority of the people who came had never been to Posabilities before, had never practiced with the OH Yoga! instructors before, and in fact many had never practiced yoga, ever!  Their willingness to stretch beyond their comfort zones is what was so inspiring.  Everyone had different stories, different experiences, and different bodies that provided them challenges.  For some people, the challenges were stretching in ways their bodies were not accustomed to, for some it was coordinating their breath with their movement, or using new muscles, and for some it was sitting quietly or settling in the final pose of savasana that asks you to “just let go.”  As humans, we are creatures of habit, and generally avoid changing our habitual patterns of movement, of thought, of doing.  Yoga frequently asks us to do just the opposite, to open up space or opportunity for transformation by stepping away from those comfortable habits.  Despite the challenge, and sometimes the discomfort, of what they were being asked to do on Friday evening, everyone in the space received the practice with open minds and hearts.  That is what makes them so inspiring!

The OH Yoga! instructors were equally inspiring.  As Yoga Instructors, we also have our comfortable patterns or habits that we tend toward.  When we offer practices we have favorite poses, cues that naturally flow out of mouths, and we get used to a fairly consistent following of students.  A new student in a class is always exciting, but can add new challenges to leading a practice.  Imagine a roomful of 15 people whom you have never led, many of whom are unfamiliar with the yoga poses being offered, and all with unique individual needs.  This can be a little disorienting, but at the same time offers us challenges and opportunities for transformation and growth as yoga instructors.  As OH Yoga! instructors each one of us was stretched in slightly different ways on Friday night that opened us up to continuing growth and transformation.

It was indeed an inspiring evening at Posabilities, and I am grateful to everyone that participated in an evening of exploration and transformation.

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” ~ Samuel Johnson

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

Compete or collaborate? That appeared to be the question…

instructors-4It was so exciting!  We were a couple of months away from completing our Yoga Teacher Training.  Soon we would be able to go out and share our yoga in our respective communities.  But wait – three of us lived within a three mile radius of each other, in a relatively small community of 12,000 that already had three yoga instructors.  Would the Oxford Hills community support an influx of three new yoga instructors?  After seven months of supporting each other, would we now have to compete against each other?

ohyoga180-blkRather than the wait and see approach, we began to hatch a plan.  First, we discussed pooling our resources for marketing – making flyers, posters together, etc.  Next, we decided to work together in securing a place to provide each of our respective classes.  It appeared that we were collaborating, so we decided it was time to have a meeting and start to map out a plan of how our collaboration would work.  First item of business – a name.  The first few ideas fell flat.  Then Oxford Hills Yoga?  Boring.  O.H. Yoga?  No.  OH Yoga?  Hmmm.  OH! Yoga?  Not quite.  OH Yoga!?  Yes, that’s it!  We had a name – OH Yoga!

On June 3, 2012, we offered our first OH Yoga! Community Class.  Over 40 people braved the flooding rains and arrived at the Center for Movement and Meditation to practice with all three of us.  From there we continued offering our own perspective classes in the space – still collaborating and supporting each other as much as possible.

It was all going so well!  Then along came my opportunity to open Posabilities in my own space.  (See my blog – The Path to Posabilities)  Once again it appeared that we were faced with a decision – compete or collaborate?  If I moved to the new space would Kathryn and Katey join me, or would I have to make a split from OH Yoga!?  There were lots of questions.  If we all made the move would we still be OH Yoga! or would we all become Posabilities?  Would we be able to offer a studio experience, or would we operate independently in the space offering our own classes?  If OH Yoga! continued what would that look like?  Many questions, a few answers, quite a few unknowns, all balanced by a strong bond of mutual trust and respect.  We were going to make the move together!  Classes would be offered by Posabilities, but they would be designated as OH Yoga! classes to distinguish them from other classes that might be offered in the space.  .

posa-logo-190We have now been offering OH Yoga! classes at Posabilities for four months.  In that time, we have grown – we have increased from three instructors to four instructors (Welcome Julie!), our classes have grown, and we continue to add new classes.  But it has not been a process without challenges.  Yeah, you may be thinking, “Come on – four yoga instructors – it must be all peace and love – what challenges?”  Well, yes there is plenty of peace and love, but at the same time I have learned that, as yoga instructors, we have an incredibly strong sense of self and that which we hold true for ourselves.  I have also learned that those truths do not always conform to each other.  Uh oh, does that mean that our truths, ideas, and desires sometimes, dare I say, compete?  Yup, the other C word.  So, here’s the thing.  I did a little research and found that the Latin roots of compete are com- together + petere to seek.  The Latin root of collaborate is collabōrāre – to work together.  (  When we find that we have competing ideas within our group we seek and work together to achieve a solution that honors each of our truths.  Usually the end solutions are much better as a result of the competitive and collaborative processes.  That, I believe, is the key to our continuing evolution as instructors, as OH Yoga!, and as the greater Posabilities community.  The question is not “compete or collaborate”; the question is how to balance collaboration and competition.  After all, Yoga is all about balance, isn’t it?

Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.   ~ Rumi

Please join us for our 2nd annual OH Yoga! community class @ Posabilities, this Friday, June 7, 2013 – 5:30-6:30.  

For more information, 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, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

The Path to Posabilities

Posabilities was not a life long dream come true.  If you had asked me two years before I started Posabilities, it would not have even been on my radar!  So you might say it came pounding on my door and said, “Katey, you’ve got to do this!”

Flashback about two years ago.  I had been practicing as a Physical Therapist for 20 years and held a comfortable (if not always fun) middle management position with a large health care provider.  I love being a Physical Therapist, but after 20 years I was feeling like I needed a new challenge.  At the same time, I was enjoying the many benefits of my own regular yoga practice.  So a reasonable option seemed to be to pursue my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).  I could continue with my secure full time job, and teach a yoga class or two as a side “hobby job.”

I started down the path of finding an YTT program that I could attend in my spare time.  One day, I casually  asked Amy Figoli, owner of the Maine Yoga House, if she knew of any YTT programs that would fit my schedule, and lo and behold she was preparing to offer her first one that next fall and it would be a weekend format which was perfect for me!  Rap, rap, someone’s at the door!

Fall arrived, and I began to open the door a crack as I started my YTT.  How exciting!  Wait, this is intense.  In addition to the once a month three day training, I have to show up at class twice a week?  I need to practice yoga every day?  I need to write papers, read books, and OMG! I have to delve into some deep self-inquiry?  My employer had allowed me some flexibility around my seven month training, but I was going to need way more flexibility than they could offer.  I’d opened the door a crack to check things out, but I was being asked to open it even wider.  What to do?  Open it some more? Close it?  Stand back a safe distance and peak through it?  Rap rap.

I opened the door a little more, left my secure middle management position, and went back to direct patient care which allowed me greater flexibility.  This was great!  In addition to greater flexibility in my schedule, I was occasionally able to use yoga postures with patients on their road to recovery. After 20 years as a Physical Therapist I was having an epiphany.  These yoga postures were having significant positive effects on my patient’s outcomes.  Calming of the nervous system, decreased pain response, improved posture and body awareness, and the patients loved it!  At the same time, I made the discovery that there was a whole field out there called Yoga Therapy.  The rap rap was becoming a knock, knock.

My pursuit of a hobby job was becoming a calling.  Knock knock – “Come on Katey.  Open the door and step through it.”  Despite some misgivings, with the urging of my husband, Jeff, I opened the door wider.  I committed to a 300 hour Professional Yoga Therapist trainingand headed out to Tucson for my first two week module.  Surrounded by inspiring instructors, Yoga Therapists, and fellow students the knocking at the door was becoming more and more persistent.  I began to formulate a vision.  My vision included a space housing a studio and a clinic space where I could offer Physical Therapy, Yoga, and Yoga Therapy, other instructors, and health and wellness providerssharing that space with me, and the space would be close to Main Street. This vision had a name, Posabilities, and I envisioned a time line of three to four years…

Bam, bam, bam – come out from behind that door!  Four months (not years that I had planned) after my vision had begun to gel my husband found a building one block off of Main Street, Norway that could be retrofitted to be fully accessible, and include a studio and clinic space for myself and other practitioners.  Again, I had my misgivings, but the universe rarely knocks twice, and Jeff continued to support and urge me forward.  So I stepped through the door and headed down the path to Posabilities!

Posabilites_11082012_GraphicPosabilities has now been open for four months, and I have been blessed by the many people that have traveled and continue to travel the path with me.  My YTT instructor, Amy Figoli, and my sister in law, Ruth lead me to the door and urged me to open it.  The OH Yoga! instructors (more on OH Yoga! next week), and the other collaborators at Posabilities have brought  richness to the journey that I could never have manifested on my own.  My husband, Jeff, has been with me every step of the way – sometimes leading, sometimes following, but usually right by my side, and never letting me turn back or take the easier path.  And finally, the members of the growing Posabilities community who sustain and nourish me as we continue to forge the path forward!

Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.”  ~ Tony Robbins

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .

I’ve gotta go – NOW!

Connie Continence – “Hey, I’ve got an idea! Wanna go for a ride and check out the scenery?”
Overactive Odette – “Oh, I’d love to, it’s so pretty out, but I can’t. We’d be too far away from a bathroom.”
C – “Oh,OK. How about we go to the beach?”
O – “Seriously? You know I can’t do that. The bathrooms are way back by the parking lot, too far from the beach. I’d never make it. Plus, the sound of the waves? Forget about it!”
C – “Huh, bummer. Well how about the mall? There are bathrooms there.”
O – “If we can go online and pull up a map of the mall showing the bathrooms I guess we could do that.”

Connie Continence is fortunate to have normal bladder control, while her good friend, Overactive Odette, suffers from overactive bladder (OAB), or urge incontinence (UI).  Urge incontinence is the strong, sudden need to urinate due to bladder spasms or contractions.  The symptoms of urge incontinence, or OAB, can be triggered by things such as turning a key in the door, washing dishes (Remember the old trick of  putting someone’s hand in a bucket of warm water?), or hearing running water.  As compared to stress incontinence where small leaks occur, urge incontinence leaks are usually of a larger scale emptying almost all of the contents of the bladder.  One in five adults over the age of 40 are affected by OAB or recurrent symptoms of urgency and frequency, a portion of whom don’t reach the toilet before losing urine. (  There are many different potential causes of urge incontinence, and in many cases the cause cannot be identified.  If you experience overactive bladder or urge incontinence you should discuss this with your healthcare provider to rule out any potential medical causes for the problem.

Mixed incontinence is when an individual suffers both from stress incontinence and the urge of the stress incontinence.  Typically it starts with stress incontinence.  As a result of the stress incontinence the individual may decide to use the facilities before they feel the urge, “just in case.”  As a result they rarely allow the bladder to completely fill.  Over time the nervous system becomes “reset” and sends a message to the brain that the bladder is full and must empty before it is anywhere near being full.  The lesson here is that you should be cautious about forming a habit of regularly urinating before you feel the urge.

So, what is one to do about urge incontinence?  Once medical problems are discussed and addressed with your healthcare provider you may consider behavioral treatments, medications, electrical stimulation, and/or surgery.

Behavioral treatments that I frequently recommend as a Physical Therapist and Yoga Therapist are:

1) Lifestyle changes (See my blog, “Control Issues”.)

2) Urge suppression techniques that help calm the nervous system include belly breathing, sequential muscle relaxation, and visualization of being in a relaxed soothing environment.  These techniques can be practiced on a daily basis.  Other possibilities include meditation techniques and yogic breath techniques that help calm the nervous system.

3) Bladder training – With bladder training you determine when you are going to urinate rather than responding to the bladder anytime that it sends a message that it “has to go really bad.”  The goal is to gradually increase the time between trips to the bathroom up to anywhere between 2-5 hours during the day, and 1-2 trips to the bathroom at night – which are normal frequencies.  Here is a guideline for retraining your bladder.

  • Figure out how often you typically experience the urge to urinate.
    • every __________  hours
  • For the 1st week, during the day, go to the bathroom at this same interval or a little less, whether you feel the urge or not.  (For example, if you usually have to go every 60 minutes, go every 45 minutes whether you have to or not.)
    • Week 1 every _________  hours
  • Each week increase the interval between trips to the bathroom by about 15 minutes
    • Week 2 every _________ hours
    • Week 3 every _________ hours
    • Week 4 every __________ hours
    • And so on until you are able to comfortably spread trips to bathroom out to every 2-5 hours.
  • If you feel the urge to urinate before the scheduled time:
    • Stand or sit quietly until the strong urge passes.
    • To help quiet the urge practice the urge suppression technique (above) that works best for you
    • You can also practice 3 quick contractions or lifts of the pelvic floor as mentioned in my blog “I laughed so hard tears ran down my legs” )
    • If at all possible, once the urge has passed, wait until the next scheduled time to void.
    • If you cannot wait until the next scheduled time be sure to walk SLOWLY to the bathroom.  Rushing stimulates the nervous system and bladder, and can increase the risk of an accidental leak.

If you suffer from urge incontinence consider taking steps to control your bladder, rather than letting your bladder control your life.  Studies have shown success rates up to 75% for improvements in bladder control with bladder re-training, and 12% for complete resolution of the problem.  Consider discussing these symptoms with your healthcare provider, making lifestyle changes, and consulting with an individual trained in Yoga Therapy or Meditation techniques to help you master approaches to quiet your nervous system, and/or a Physical Therapist who is knowledgeable in pelvic floor dysfunction if you have mixed incontinence.

We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

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

You may find her at, Twitter @Posabilities4u, and .