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**A few spaces are still available in each session — Register today!**

DOUG SWENSON RETURNS TO CBY!

Oct 7, 8, and 9

Friday Oct 7: 6-8:30pm

Handstands/Inversions and Balancing Workshop
In this class the students will experience a delightful, holistic flow of asana – focused around handstands, inversions and balancing. With many tips on how to avoid and overcome injury. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. SOME YOGA EXPERIENCE RECOMMENDED.

Saturday Oct 8 – 2 sessions

9-11:30am
Ashtanga with Extra Spice
The class will follow the order of asanas for 1st level Ashtanga, with the addition of some poses from the 2nd and 3rd blended in at appropriate places in your routine. This class includes hands on adjustments and personal suggestions on how to enhance your practice. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. SOME YOGA EXPERIENCE RECOMMENDED.

1-3pm
Yin Yoga
In this class the students will enjoy the simplicity of a nurturing, gentle asana flow. Many postures will be supportive, relaxing and held for longer duration. The vinyasa will be light (Non muscle resistance). While CBY provides props for such a class, our numbers are limited. If you have your own bolster or pillow, we highly encourage bringing your own due to increased attendance for workshops such as this. If you don’t have your own, we do have some here in-house. ALL LEVELS WELCOME! NO YOGA EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.

Sunday Oct 9: 9:30am-12pm

Introduction to Ashtanga Intermediate Series
This class walks the student through the 2nd level series of Ashtanga Yoga, using supportive alternatives to challenging asana. **call/email the studio and chat with Sara if you are curious about the appropriateness of this workshop for you. BEST FOR INTERMEDIATE AND ABOVE STUDENTS.

For Registration, click here.
$65 per individual session
$225 for the full weekend of classes
For questions, call the studio 281.257.4245 or email cherryblossom.yoga@gmail.com

Sunday Sept 25 2011

9:00-11:30am

Join Cherry Blossom Yoga for a playful morning of aerial and therapeutic flying, partner assisted stretching and Thai-inspired massage.

**No partner necessary!**

**Open to all-levels!**

Melanie: YogaFlight

Yoga takes Flight!

Registration Information:
contact – Sara Turk
Cherry Blossom Yoga
281.257.4245
cherryblossom.yoga@gmail.com
http://www.cherryblossomyoga.com/
http://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ws.asp?studioid=9866&stype=-8&sTG=23&sVT=26&sView=day
$45 (save $10 if purchased before Sept 10)

Melissa Smith

ABOUT MELISSA:
Melissa began teaching Group Fitness 20 years ago while attending Texas A&M. She’s lived and traveled all over the US and most recently lived abroad in Malaysia. Melissa’s first 350 hours are from Inspyrayoga in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2005 where Melissa specialized in pre/post natal for over 3 years. Moving back to the US, Melissa obtained her 500 RYT and blogs about her experiences as a student and teacher. She currently leads teacher trainings for Leeann Carey Yoga (200 and 300 hour), specializing Partner Practice.

September is National Yoga Month

CBY will be participating with FREE classes for ALL and a FREE WEEK of UNLIMITED YOGA for New Students.

To get your ONE WEEK FREE CARD, click here.

For current students – those who have been to a class at CBY anytime in the past – we are opening up a selection of classes that will be FREE to ALL as a way of saying thank you to our kula of students who make CBY the beautiful and energetic space that it is today! The following classes are FREE to ANYONE!

Sept 3, Saturday: 10:45-11:45am Restorative with Laura Lima
Sept 4, Sunday: 12:30-1:45pm Sadhana Yoga Chi with Sara Turk
Sept 5, Monday: 5:45-7pm Vinyasa with Sara Turk
Sept 8, Thursday: 6-7AM Hatha Flow with Jennifer Mohr
Sept 17, Saturday: 9-10:30am Ashtanga with Claire Wilson
Sept 22, Thursday: 6-7AM Hatha Flow with Jennifer Mohr

Click here to sign-up for classes.

Melanie and Slade: Namaste

“A state of mind is always temporary.” ~Jack Kornfield

A huge part of yoga is the practice of letting go. Something I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately is the letting go of judgment. The past two weeks, I’ve noticed much more anger, frustration, and judgment have welled up within.. and I didn’t know why. Recently, I had a visiting friend who I don’t see all that often..and I was Grumpy Grumps-A-Lot. And it made me feel badly that I couldn’t be not-grumpy – and faking cheerful giddy is for high school cheerleaders, something I’ve moved beyond. At first it was hard to recognize. Well, at least the reasons why were hard to recognize. I hadn’t felt like that in years, and I felt like I was losing my mind. Turns out it was due to a hormonal imbalance, but that’s beside the point. Practicing yoga teaches us to recognize the emotions that rise up in order to observe the root causes without judgment, so that they may pass. So just saying “oh it was all hormonal,” in my mind, is a cop-out for an opportunity to grow. Sure, perhaps my hormones did make me a little “get-bent”, but what caused the insanity was not the anger and frustration that manifested, it was my self-judgment of “why is this happening? why am I going crazy? why can’t I just let it go? WTF?” I noticed I was expressing my anger in my teaching – though my students may not have known it at the time.. I mean, it’s Ashtanga.. the Primary series is what it is. I was never aggressive with my adjustments, I just noticed myself being overly cautious to adjust in a hands-on manner because I didn’t want to physically express my frustration upon another person. So in that regard, my students might have sensed a pulling away from my usual hands-on approach.

Clarity is a funny thing. I discovered the root cause to the hormonal imbalance and rectified it. But it took a few more days to realize some other underlying causes to the wells of anger, frustration, and judgment. Of course, meditating on these emotions helped clear the cobwebs so that I could see what lied beneath. Tuesday morning, I taught a very aggressive Primary series – to which all the students responded with “that was great!” and the like. And I appreciate that they had a wonderful experience, that my pushing them as I worked out underlying issues in myself opened windows of self-reflection. Of course, *enter another self-judgment* I begrudged myself for working out MY issues while teaching THEIR class. Teaching is a time to give everything to the student, not work on my own issues – that’s what my practice is for. Perhaps a yoga class is catharsis on both sides – I always say I learn more from my students than they learn from me.

It wasn’t until the evening Primary series that same day I had a window open up for myself. I took it a bit different since I only had a couple of students, and they are open to having me play with it a little. I didn’t follow the exact layout of Pattabhi Jois *gasp*, but in that “rebellion from tradition” I discovered something beautiful. I threw in some Intermediate series poses in appropriate places, I held them in each pose a little longer and reduced the number of vinyasas, and instead of cueing alignment issues (since this pair is pretty spot on in their alignment), I discussed more the feelings of the posture – what does Uttitha Parsvokonasana feel like within you, and not on you..or what emotional whispers rise up as you work in opposite directions in Paschimottanasana or Marichyasana. Cues of that nature.. There was much laughter and experimentation when we tried some of the more challenging poses. It was a release I think we all needed. Then my Thursday morning Ashtanga, I taught in the same manner.. more self-reflective than alignment-based. The energy is the room was focused, inward. Whether they knew it or not, I feel that each one in the room touched a little Pratyahara. Again, all the students seemed to have an enlightening experience – no matter how fleeting. This is merely my perception of the events, and what is truly happening within them only they know.

So with the clarity of the underlying issues – beneath the physiological (hormonal imbalance) – I seemed to have rediscovered why I teach yoga and it re-inspired my desire to practice yoga (a whole blog post in itself on that one). Maybe because it had been so long that I needed to experience such a physiological insanity so that I could realize I was still self-judging on a subconscious level. My feeling badly because I felt grumpy is a judgment that needs to be released. Just let go and observe the grumpy. Sometimes people feel grumpy and it’s okay.. even yoga teachers get grumpy, frustrated, angry. Yoga teachers are still students of yoga on the same path as our students we teach every day – it’s our experiences and perceptions of the path that differ, but we’re all walking side-by-side. Those who have moved beyond the path are enlightened and having tea with the Buddha..but us mere mortals area still working through the cobwebs.

~Namaste

Sharath Jois, the grandson to the lute Guruji, is leading a group of students in the Primary Series. I can only imagine the awesome feeling of being in his presence. I was never lucky enough to practice with Guruji before he passed, so a practice with Sharath (or Manju, Pattabhi’s son and Sharath’s father) would – in my mind – be equally as magical. Enjoy!

At the end, Sharath discusses the practice of Yamas and Niyamas during your asana. Watch it all the way through, wonderful!

Because I’m not cool enough to embed it (I’ve tried several different ways), you’ll have to settle for a link:
http://livestre.am/Hds5

And I love that his shirt reads “Eat More Chapatis!” 🙂 Also note, though mats are corner to corner..the natural staggering of bodies when it comes to Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana.. you gotta love yogis who are used to close quarters. 😉

~Namaste~

I read an article this morning on elephantjournal.com entitled “Die and Live?” that spoke of life and death, plans for the author’s (Roger Wolsey) funeral, living in the present moment, and it ended with a list of Roger’s things he will miss about life when he dies. I’ve often contemplated my own death – ever since I can remember I’ve been intrigued by death and more specifically, the cessation of life. It’s not that I have a death wish – though that’s not to say that I never did, but that’s a different blog post – but it’s more a fascination with the mechanisms that we label as life (basic individual cellular metabolism- ATP, glucose-6-phosphate, ion channels, etc.; and then cell-cell signaling to make it work on a systemic scale)..and subsequently the cessation of those mechanisms which we label as death, followed by the decomposition of the physical organic matter we call our body. In addition to contemplating the physical aspect of death, I often ‘plan’ my funeral services – wishes I’d currently like to be fulfilled (and of course, these change over time as my views on life change).

But I digress.. back to the article in question. The point of it all is to identify those things in life which truly matter to you, what your priorities are, and how to appreciate the present moment – because truth be told, it’s all we have. I love making lists, but I realized as often as I contemplate death and my dying, I never made a list of things which I’ll miss about life. I found this to be a great exercise in gratitude, appreciation, and in the psychology of myself. Roger decided to make this list as part of his Lenten ritual..and while I don’t partake of Lent, I think a once-a-year reevaluation of self and that which you appreciate is not a bad thing. Just as we turn a new leaf at New Year’s, reflecting on the past.. perhaps we can reflect on our future inevitability to appreciate the present. So here is my first, and hopefully annual list, of things I will miss about life. I recommend you give it a try yourself. 🙂

**in no particular order**

Things I Will Miss About Life (2011)

*The vibrancy of the colors at the onset of spring just before the first blooming (the first release of pollen).
*The smell of toast, and fresh baked bread.
*Making a cup of tea.
*The first sip from a fresh cup/pot of tea.
*The first breath in Savasana – that initial release.
*The last few breaths in Savasana – the reawakening.Supta Kurmasana
*The stillness at the moment just following the cessation of the OM before the next inhale is taken.
*Post-pranayama bliss.
*Supta Kurmasana.
*Laughter in surround sound created by a group of loved ones.
*A broken heart.
*A pain-filled cry because the ache in my heart is too intense to contain, and thereby becoming satisfying.
*Kissing the corner of the eyebrow on a lovers face.
*Being greeted by my dog upon arrival home with ecstatic joy (and returning that joy in kind).
*The smile on a dog – any dog.
*Baking for sharing.
*Thunderstorms in the afternoon.
*The ocean in all it’s physical and metaphorical nature.
*The Mr.’s salsa.
*The smell of a freshly mowed lawn in the hot summertime.
*The sound of an antique mantle clock.
*Going weak in the knees (literally) from the intensity of a lovers kiss.
*Acoustic guitar.
*Having my hair washed lovingly by another.
*The melancholy, joy, sensuality, depression, excitement inspired by music.
*The under-rumble and half-wimpers of a dog dreaming.
*Dancing.
*Stilettos.
*The musky scent of a man (and by extension, the greasy smell of a man who has been working in the garage).
*The smell of whiskey on a man.
*The smell of Autumn when it begins.
*Sharing the perfect cup of tea with a best friend.
*The rare moments I realize I truly love myself, letting go of all my self-flagellation, self-loathing, self-expectations.
*The comfort of a dog resting their head on my ankles or waist.
I did notice a theme – friends, laughter, love, the in-between moments.. and that which stimulates the senses. The sounds of things, the sights, the tastes, the smells..and the subsequent emotions those senses inspire. In essence these are all things that inspire comfort and joy in my heart (yes, even the conventionally labeled ‘sad’ ones). Because what is living if you can’t experience it in it’s entirety..not just live it, but experience it.~I wish you Experiential Living!

As I walked into lululemon The Woodlands this morning, I wasn’t sure exactly what type of class I was going to lead. I knew they wanted a healing class.. but to a group of active lulus that could mean a range of things – a gentle, slow paced class to open the hips and heart, allowing the breath to calm the aching soul; a vigorous ashtanga-esque vinyasa to allow the sweat to drip off the body along with the heartache.. two dynamically different possibilities, but only one opportunity. So I walk into lulu at 6:40am.

As some of the girls are lighting candles, I lay out my mat and sit. More lulus begin walking in the door..and I sit. I hear laughter, I see hugging, I feel warmth and kindness..and I’m reminded of family reunions. Regardless of the reason a close family comes together – be it a funeral or a wedding or just because – there is always joy and love that fills the air (at least in my family). Though this occasion for coming together is one of sorrow, these lulus are comprised of joy within their grief – a diamond light amidst the thunderstorm. A smile emerges from my lips. The employees of lululemon are more than mere employees or coworkers, they are bonded by friendship, camaraderie, love, and yoga.

So I’m introduced, and I open the class with AUM – the sound which symbolizes creation, preservation, and liberation (or destruction). The symphonic breath was magical, and we flowed through hip openers, chaturangas, heart openers, and inversions. It was a beautiful experience, to be an outside observer to this healing movement, to help lead these amazing men and women through their creation, preservation, and destruction of this practice. As a teacher, I have poses in mind that I want to do for a class.. but for me, the practitioners are what make the practice, the sequence (with the exception of Ashtanga, of course). Without sounding too “woo-woo,” I let the energy of the practitioners and the room fill me, guide me, and allow me to cultivate the practice they require. This morning was no different. We went through a lighter flow than my normal pace (yet still warming), and then ended with some seated hip openers and inversions to allow the release of emotions that have been building all week.

We close with AUM and Namaste, a group photo, and the lulus head off to breakfast before the Memorial service. On the drive back to Cherry Blossom, I become overwhelmed and am reminded of a quote.

“Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear.”~Joss Whedon

The passion that lies within the lulus for life, for love, for community, for giving.. it can be overwhelming to be welcomed into that passion, that love. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.. to live and die is to love, and it is to love deeply. We must create, preserve, and destroy with every breath..with every moment..with every practice..and with every life.  A life with passion is a life worth living. We cannot create joy without grief, we cannot destroy sorrow without happiness, we cannot see clearly until the lights are turned to darkness, and we cannot preserve love without letting go.

“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.” ~Erich Fromm

So I’ll leave you with this last bit.. as I lay in bed last night, thinking about the dark night the family and friends are currently going through – and recalling my dark nights of the past and present – it occurs to me…

Is it only in darkness that we can shed light on that which truly matters? If everything is shiny and bright, the radiance gets lost in the incandescence… and we become blinded by the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti~

“Life is a constant oscillation between the sharp horns of dilemmas.” ~Henry Louis Mencken

This has been an interesting week for me. There have been a lot of would-be ups and downs, and luckily I have my yoga to keep these oscillations at a manageable capacity. As most of you know, this was the week in which we had our official 1-year anniversary (or birthday) – March 15th – though we are celebrating all month long. This is a great cause for celebration. We’ve been open for 1 year, and in that year we’ve seen growth in student numbers, growth in student practice, and growth in our community. I’ve become a lululemon athletica Yoga Ambassador for The Woodlands, and you voted our studio into the Top 5 of Houston’s Best Yoga Studio! Many reasons for celebration and jubilation. In this past year, we’ve also seen loss.. loss of two deeply loved instructors – Ejiro and Jennifer. Though, they are both alive and healthy and working on growing their own paths, their presence is still felt within the boundaries of CBY; their physical presence is missed on a daily basis (if only in my own heart).

March 15th is also bittersweet for me, as it is the observed birthday of my beloved pooch Copper. He died in 2008, yet still has a profound effect on my emotional state. His presence in my life was filled with ups and downs as well – beginning by my rescuing him from euthanasia as a recently weaned puppy, followed by my rescuing him at the age of 1 year from an abusive ex-boyfriend (abusive to Copper, not me), but failing to rescue him at the age of 8 from a brain tumor. He was my rock in times of distress, and my pillow in times of solace. And it’s times like this that I miss him most. He loved the springtime, when the flowers bloomed – I would catch him out the window at times, literally stopping to smell the roses and peonies in the backyard.

With the tragedy of two female lululemon employees being sexually assaulted and one of them murdered, in Bethesda, Maryland, along with the catastrophe occurring in Japan..these become trying times – when it feels like the world itself is in a Dark Night of the Soul. But it’s these dark nights that allow us to find the light. We can use the darkness to shed light on that which lies deep within us – the strength, wisdom, and peace. This is when we need to reach out to our community, and our loved ones for support. With loss of life comes an inspired sense of connection. So while these events fill me with sorrow, I celebrate the life of loved ones past. I celebrate the joys in life that surround me – new friendships blossoming, engagements and wedding anniversaries of loved ones, birthdays of loved ones past, birthdays of a business Johanna and I have cultivated and continue to nurture. I celebrate the lessons sorrows have taught me in the past, about myself and about life, and I celebrate the lessons sorrow and tragedy have yet to instill in me.

Yoga helps to keep my highs a little more close to my heart so that my lows don’t take me so far down that I can’t return. Yoga helps to keep these oscillations of the heart a little more even and manageable.

“Instead of weeping when a tragedy occurs in a songbird’s life, it sings away its grief. I believe we could well follow the pattern of our feathered friends.” ~Unknown

~Namaste

I’ve been finding inspiration in many places lately – and isn’t that where we want to find it, in a multitude of sources? It’s no secret that I love dancing, whether I’m donning pink tights and a tutu, black tights and barefoot, or a mini skirt and stilettos (read: ballet, modern/jazz or possibly cleaning the house, Saturday night). I love moving the body, and truly tapping into how that makes my body and spirit feel. Reading through some quotes, I stumbled across this one:

“The dance is a poem of which each movement is a world.” ~Mata Hari

I also love Mata Hari – seductress, dancer, alleged spy.. And I feel this quote can extend to yoga – each movement being its own world. I’ve been chatting with friends and colleagues here lately about feeling yoga..truly feeling each movement, on a “5-senses” level..not just feeling in the figurative heart. It was brought to my attention after a class recently of something I said during my cues, “Don’t just take your arms overhead, but reach and lengthen the body as you inhale.” This student mentioned it really changed that moment for him, and that’s one thing I live for as a yoga teacher.. to change ones viewpoint of their own practice, and at the same time helping me change mine! Students don’t often realize that as teachers, we learn more from teaching and watching you than you learn from us. So when the student brought this to my attention, it returned me to a period in my personal practice that I felt I was truly feeling every stretch and lengthen and twist and fold with every fiber and breath of my being. After teaching as much as I have been lately – 7 days a week, multiple classes a day – it’s easy to fall back into ‘going through the motions’ during my own practice and I found myself craving the connectedness with my body, every morsel as it moves within my skin and breath. So next time you’re in a class… perhaps try tapping into the moment within each movement. It’s another level of being present and aware. Sure, you can be focused on the alignment and the poses and such, but going a little deeper and actually feeling the massage as you fold your torso over your legs in Paschimottananasa or Uttanasana is truly a beautiful thing. And perhaps it’ll relieve the burnout factor if you feel you’ve just been “going through the motions.” Perhaps try to feel the motions. Spring is a beautiful time to till the soil and plant some fresh roots.. in your garden, or in your practice!

“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.” ~Sam Keen

Don’t let the winter blues burn you out.. Spring is springing, let’s awaken and take advantage!

~Namaste

Two videos, 1 sequence.. you vote on which one you like better! There’s no prize..just a way to interact with everyone. 🙂 The beautiful yogini, Jennifer Key, and I were playing around after class today, and one of our lovely students recorded this asana sequence. I set it to music post-production, and I think I have a favorite..but I’ll let the public decide! 😉

Video #1
Visual Effect: Aged Film
Music: Middle Sex Times (Donnie Darko Soundtrack)

Video #2
Visual Effect: Bleach Bypass
Music: Liquid Spear Waltz (Donnie Darko Soundtrack)

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