Need Help Juicing? We Got You!

Don’t have time to juice? No worries! Shapiro’s Cafe joined Shawn Paterakis, CCY Director of Nutrition, last night and brought delicious juices along with them! Shawn has a great 3-day reset program going on right now for free! If you are interested in this or other programs we offer, check out our Nutrition page here. Shapiro’s Cafe is located at 7 W Preston Street – just a couple blocks up from Charm City Yoga’s Midtown location. Extremely convenient for a delicious post-yoga meal!

For more information on the Nutrition program, join Shawn and Gabrielle Sulc for Yoga on the Farm Saturday, April 26th from 10am – 12pm. For more information on this workshop, click here.

On the Joys of Process: The Inner Journey of Ashtanga Yoga – by Heather Hax

I have been practicing Ashtanga yoga since September 2001. Like many new students, I experienced the exhilaration of progressing very quickly: my tight hamstrings got longer; my tight shoulders got, well, a little less tight; my binds got deeper; my handstands got more “handstandy” (you see, when I started practicing, many of my teachers taught handstands during boat pose and/or in the closing sequence after wheel)! My physicality made it so that I advanced in the primary series of Ashtanga yoga with relative aplomb.

Then there were drop backs

We all have those poses that vex us. I started learning how to drop back in 2004, about three years after I began yoga practice. I am not a natural back bender so any progress I made at first was a lot of fun and brought me a deep sense of pride. Eventually, however, I started to look around and see so many flexible, young yogis achieve this pose much more quickly and easily than I was.

The frustration and striving began.

The paradox is this: the more I pushed, the more I beat myself up, the more I draped my chest over blocks and tried like hell to stretch my ankles and release my psoas – that is, the more I gripped my sights on the end result – the more my body gripped and, in fact, the more I hurt myself. I forgot to enjoy the process. My practice, and my body, became a battle ground rather than a joyful space for exploration.

 

Then something happened that seemed terrible, yet turned out to be a blessing. My MCL was completely torn by a sweet but overly rambunctious dog. I could barely walk after the accident and my knee would only bend about 70 degrees. I thought my days of lotus and squatting and sitting on my heels were over. So, I got on my mat, with a straight legged cast, and I breathed. Eventually, the cast came off and the brace came on. I got on my mat with a thick heavy brace in the middle of summer, and I breathed. My physical therapist then allowed me to practice without the brace. I bent my knee a little more each day and I breathed. It was thrilling!

 But not for the reasons you think.

I was thrilled to be relieved of my ego-driven ideas of what “should” be. Instead, I meditated on what is. My practice became a space of observation and attention rather than a space of frustration and pushing.

This is not to say that there are not days that I get on my mat and feel frustrated or stiff or achy. There are days where I am angry with my body for not complying or when I wonder why on earth it took me 12 years to drop back into a backbend from standing (and why on earth I still can’t stand up!). Yet, I get on my mat, I observe the punishing thoughts when they come, and I breathe. I am grateful for this body, this practice. I’ve never learned as much from what came easy as from the process struggle. The Ashtanga practice has allowed me that space for deep reflection.

I have been practicing long enough to know that whatever form my Ashtanga practice is taking at this very moment is fleeting. The body changes. Sometimes it changes in the ways we want it to. Yet all of us will experience inevitable decay. Yoga practice teaches us to let go of our idea of what is in favor of what actually is. It asks us to do the work regardless of the outcome. Mysore class is a wonderful container for this work.

 What a gift.

Using Yoga as Therapy for the Visual Impaired: an interview with Dr. Pam Jeter

Today I had the chance to sit down with Pam Jeter, a devoted Ashtangi who has been practicing Mysore at Charm City Yoga.  For the past 4 years, Pam has been conducting a study to establish the feasibility of an Ashtanga-based yoga therapy program for visually impaired students.  I sat down with her to learn a little more about her program.

 

When did you begin practicing yoga? Ashtanga?

I started practicing yoga in 2002 in Southern California. I began practicing Ashtanga under Diana Christensen and Tim Miller in 2004 and was attracted to the flow and breathing components of the practice as well as the emphasis on cultivating an inner focus and self practice.  I was practicing mostly Led Primary classes until I took the leap and began a Mysore practice in 2006.  I was instantly hooked.

 

Tell Us About your Time in California

While living in Southern California, I studied Cognitive Science at University of California, Irvine, where I received my Ph. D.  I also began teaching yoga to blind students at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles.  I wanted to be able to continue my work with the blind population, so I began thinking about out how to incorporate yoga into my research, specifically to help symptoms related to severe vision loss.

 

What led you to Baltimore?

I came across a survey that had been done at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on visually impaired patients seeking alternative medicine (acupuncture, yoga, meditation, etc.) for stress, anxiety and insomnia.  I contacted the faculty member (who is now my supervisor) to see if there had been any previous studies done with yoga and the visually impaired population.  There hadn’t been any so I applied for a fellowship to work with him at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

 

So your research is the first of its kind?

Yes, to my knowledge.  My specific research evaluates yoga as therapy for symptoms related to vision loss, such as balance impairment and stress.  Despite the fact that the blind population is increasingly seeking out yoga as a treatment for stress, anxiety, and overall physical and emotional well being, it has not been systematically studied for safety and efficacy in this clinical population.  Many people have asked, “Why do we need research? I know that yoga makes me feel good.”  Research is important for working with clinical populations.  For example, we hope that in the future, insurance companies that require evidence of effectiveness will provide coverage for those that need the healing benefits of yoga the most.  Yoga therapy and research is growing and the medical community is getting more involved but funding is still hard to come by.  I am so thankful for this opportunity and for my supervisor who has taking a strong interest in my research and has really helped support me through this whole process.

 

Why did you specifically choose Ashtanga for your study?

Ashtanga is an integrated system of asana, movement and breath.  Ashtanga is very accessible to any population when taught with its traditional intent, practicing movement with steady breathing.  If you lose the breath, then the posture is incorrect.  In this sense, practicing asana becomes the vehicle for teaching proper breathing techniques.   Strength and flexibility come as a result of regular practice.   We are also taught to cultivate inner focus through our ‘drishti’.  For blind students, instead of a visual focus point, they can use the sound of the breath as their Drishti to cultivate inner focus.   When it comes to visually impaired conditions, we all want to find a cure but we also need to focus on the many symptoms related to vision loss.

 

Were there any personal reasons you choose to work with the blind population? 

Yes, my mother has a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness.  Fortunately I did not inherit this disease, but unfortunately for my mother, like most conditions affecting vision, there is no cure.

 

What was your research question for your study?

We use vision for balance.  Think about your drishti in a pose, you loose your balance when you close your eyes or look away.  Legally blind students are also at risk for falls due to the loss of visual input for postural stability.  And when you combine vision loss and decreasing physical fitness due to aging, falls that result in injury (such as breaking a hip) can be really detrimental.  My research question was “can yoga teach people who are blind to access other sensory input like proprioception or awareness of your body in space to compensate for vision loss?”  Adopting yoga as a strategy may aid in the development of awareness of the body through strengthening poses and breathing techniques as it assumes a stable stance or moves in space.  And if you think about it, Ashtanga cultivates our bandhas, which are energetic locks, but also directly related to our core strength, therefore, the asana practice can help strengthen those components critical for maintaining good balance.

 

Who participated in your study and what did that include?

For my most recent study, 17 legally blind adult participants were randomized to an 8-week Ashtanga-based yoga therapy program or a control group.  They convened for one session per week with an instructor and preformed two home-based sessions per week using an audio CD.  The participants were administered tests to gauge their balance using the Wii Balance Board as well as stress and anxiety levels.

 

Please explain what you discovered in your results

The results of the study suggest that the somatosensory contribution to balance (e.g. proprioception) and general mood improved in the yoga group but not the control. These are preliminary data in a small sample but I think it’s promising.

 

I am very thankful I had an opportunity to meet Pam and that she has become apart of our Charm City Yoga community. Her work has helped bring attention to the therapeutic and beneficial aspect of yoga and how they can help you overcome adversities and achieve inner peace and mindfulness.  I hope there will be many more studies like hers, so that the scientific and medical community can aid in the process of spreading the joys of yoga.

Namaste.

Nutrition Programs at CCY

The sun is shining, there’s no more snow in sight so maybe it’s time to start thinking about Spring cleaning for your inner self! The season change is a perfect time to detox and with the Charm City Yoga Nutrition Program you will be guided every step of the way with how to achieve your goal and really stay on track.

Shawn Paterakis recently joined Charm City Yoga as the Director of Nutrition and he has a few nutrition programs that will have you feeling great in no time.

We have a 7-Day Reset Nutrition Program, a 14-Day Nourish Program, and a 28-Day Evolve Program that will leave you feeling detoxed and rejuvenated and ready to continue eating healthy.

Check out the programs here
OR
Contact Shawn Paterakis here

Mysore Made Easy with Kim Manfredi

Wondering what all the Mysore hype is about? Join Kim Manfredi this coming Tuesday, April 8th at our Federal Hill studio from 4:30-6:00pm!

Kim is offering a Mysore Made Easy workshop where you will meet once a week for five weeks. Come discover your inner voice, deepen your relationship to yoga and cultivate a practice that you can take anywhere!

 

This 5 week class will teach you how to:

1. Find depth and ease in postures by using props, straps and the wall
2. Improve alignment through the art of exploration.
3. Perfect sun salutations, standing poses, seated postures, and the finishing sequence.
4. Thrive in your practice and transform your life.

Each week will have different content building toward a complete Mysore experience. This is an all level class and drop ins are welcome.

Click here to find out more information and to register today!

Life Force Yoga

Has the freezing, snowy, and seemingly endless winter have you feeling more contracted, shut-in, and weighted down? We have a remedy for the WINTER BLUES!

LIFE FORCE YOGA! Come out of hibernation. Release stagnation and restlessness. Thaw out your life force energy and get your juices flowing again. This introductory workshop to Life Force Yoga promises to invigorate your vitality, sense of well being, and joy.

Prana, the Sanskrit word for life force energy, flows through all of us. When it is freely moving and unobstructed, we experience our vitality, good health, and joy. However, when it is sluggish, stuck, or blocked, it can result in life-depleting habits, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Life-force Yoga™, developed by Amy Weintraub, ERYT-500, opens the body and mind, allowing prana to flow with ease.Life-force Yoga™ opens and energizes the body and mind with specific breathing, chanting, movement, and meditation sequences and techniques that increase emotional balance,mood regulation, and relieves the stresses of daily life, and the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Each class ends with a guided deep relaxation. This class is appropriate for beginners and all other levels.

Come join Mira Tessman and Rebekah Montgomery, Certified Life Force Yoga practitioners, in this first time event at CCY, Pikesville, Sunday, April 6, 2:00-4:00 PM. Register now!

Make Peace with Stress

Stress is part of life and, in modern times is public enemy number one. But can changing how we think about stress make us healthier? Science says yes. By changing our minds about stress, we can transform our body’s physical response from harmful to joyful!

Do you want:

• to feel capable of making clear, conscious choices when things are chaotic, but feel overwhelmed and frazzled?

• to feel good in your body, but have chronic aches, pains and tension?

• more enjoyment in your daily life, but spend a lot of time hurrying, worrying, and focusing on the negative?

• to sleep well, but lay in bed uncomfortable with thoughts racing through your head?

What if you were able to recognize your body and mind’s stress response as direct instructions for equanimity in that moment? What if you could Make Peace with Stress?

Learn more about the yogic prescription for transforming your relationship to chronic stress and, apply it to a stress busting yoga practice.

Yoga therapist, Stephannie Weikert, RYT-500, offers her 2-hour workshop THIS Sunday at CCY Midtown at 12:30PM. Her nurturing style focuses on cultivating openness, fortitude, balance and equanimity. Her intention is to guide those she works with to deeper self-awareness and their endless supply of inner peace.

Click here to sign up.

Think Happy Thoughts

Today is the International Day of Happiness, Spring has officially sprung, AND the sun is shining.  What makes you happy?  Maybe it’s that yoga class that you’ve signed up for, or maybe it’s driving with the windows down.  Whatever it is, share your positive energy with others!
(I promise it’s contagious).

Here we have Jayne, Charm City Yoga’s Teacher Trainer Coordinator, posing in Vrksasana, tree pose, outside of our Midtown location.

April 12th Open House!

Have you ever thought about teaching yoga?
Do you have questions about becoming a yoga teacher?
Here’s your chance to ask!

Join Kim Manfredi, owner of Charm City Yoga, for an Open House on April 12th from 11am-12pm at our Midtown location to discuss the 200 Hour Low Residency that begins May 2nd and the 200 Hour Summer Intensive that begins July 7th. Tea and snacks will be provided!

Kim began studying yoga and meditation in 1988 to facilitate healing from an injury that left her with four broken vertebrae. This healing was so miraculous she became a teacher so she could share the practice with others.

What brings you to the mat everyday? Is it love? Is it an injury? Whatever it is, maybe it’s time to share your passion with the world!

At the Open House Kim will be joined by Jayne Levinson, CCY Teacher Training Coordinator, Allison Korycki, CCY Director of Operations, and Michelle Cagan. Allison and Michelle are not only beloved teachers at Charm City Yoga but also help teach the yoga trainees in the program.

What will be discussed at the Open House:
– The Program Format
– Its rich content
– Requirements for certification
– Our teaching philosophy
– The benefits of deepening your practice and learning to share it with others

Bring your questions and curiosity!

Why You Will Love Led Ashtanga

By Debbie Saag

The “Ashtanga Yoga Mysore Style” is the traditional teaching method used by Pattabhi Jois. However, Pattabhi Jois also made use of the led style class on Fridays in Mysore and when he traveled for his world teaching tours. Sharath, his grandson, has carried on that tradition!

1. The led class helps establish the foundations of the Ashtanga system of yoga. In this system a student practices Vinyasa. Vinyasa refers to the sequence of postures in which you connect each breath with each movement. You will also learn the correct order of the postures in which each asana is a preparation for the upcoming pose. In the Ashtanga tradition you hold each pose for 5 complete breaths.

2. The rhythmic pace of a led class has many benefits. It helps to build heat, detoxify the body, increase strength, endurance, and flexibility. A led class keeps us from pushing into poses before we are ready; it helps us to feel free.

3. Attending a led class can also help you to deepen your practice. In a led class you have to work diligently to keep the breath even and steady. The pace of the flow requires that you stay focused and concentrate on the breath. Concentration is the key to an engaging and sustained practice.The breath will inform you about what you are doing in your poses and your level of concentration.

4. Led class helps you to learn to be content with your practice. You move into the asana to the best of your ability and breathe. There is no time to get distracted or worry. Just enjoy;)
There is a wonderful energy created when everyone is moving and breathing in unison. We encourage you to attend a led class once a week. Charm City Yoga currently has 3 led full primary classes.

Tues: 5:30 -7:00 PM /Midtown/Debbie
Friday: 6:00 -7:15 AM /Midtown/Debbie
Friday: 4:00 -5:30 PM /Midtown/Debbie

We are very excited to add 7 led half primary classes at several of studios. Our aim is to share and grow the practice with our amazing community.

Fells Point: Mondays, 8-9:15 pm – Community Ashtanga with Corey
Fells Point: Thursday, 8:30-9:45 pm – Community Ashtanga with Ben
Columbia: Saturdays, 4:30-5:45 pm – Led Primary Series with Justin
Federal Hill: Saturdays, 5:30-6:45 pm – Led Primary Series with Ben
Pikesville: Sundays, 8-9:15am (starts May 4th) – Led Primary Series with Ben
Fells Point: Sundays, 7:30-8:45 pm – Community Ashtanga with Becky