fbpx

By Mary Moscarello

One of my favorite songs (I have many – in many genres – maybe that’s for another post) is by the band, Incubus. The song finds its way into my class playlists often and it is called “Drive”. The opening stanzas could not be more poetically perfect, in my opinion.

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer

It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I am beginning to find
That I should be the one behind the wheel

The lyrics speak plainly about how fear makes us passengers in our own life, rather than the drivers. There’s an honest admission that although we know it is our job to drive, walk, run, move through our own journey – the act of letting things just happen to us has a “vague, haunting mass appeal”.

Vague.

Haunting.

How clearly this illustrates the nagging feeling we get when we are not in control. It can be appealing to move through life without being fully aware. We are bombarded with negative messaging and “waking up” to that fact can feel, well, yucky.

Applying this to the yoga practice, one can see many parallels.

A student in class last night told me she enjoys a slower paced yoga class, so that she can actually feel what’s happening – she can feel “the yoga” taking place. Yoga as a workout is definitely a thing, you will stretch, build strength and lung capacity as you practice regularly. But the mental part can often be something we leave aside. The thing that is crucial to a yoga practice is control of the mind.

B.K.S. Iyengar, author of “Light on Yoga” writes,

“A lamp does not flicker where no winds blow, so it is with the yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him.”

So how does fear get wrapped up in all of this? Our thoughts themselves can be scary. Looking within can be terrifying, especially if we are facing a challenging time in our lives. Think about being alone with your thoughts – to pause and see where your mind goes, unfettered – what do you feel when you think about doing that? For some, this is just too much to take. The mind is so noisy. So rambling. You may have heard it referred to as “the monkey mind” – where one thought just rolls into the next, with no pause or chance for reflection.

We breathe all day every day of our lives, but often without noticing it. By tapping into the sound of your own breath, you can begin to calm that monkey mind and deal with your own thoughts. Fear may arise, maybe tears, sometimes joy… but you can control them. You don’t have to be in a yoga pose or even seated in any particular position to begin this meditative practice.

Here are a few steps you can take to begin a breathing practice that will calm the mind and allow you to begin to control your thoughts.

Step 1: Get comfortable. Seated or laying down. Place one hand on your belly, one hand on your chest.

Step 2: Take a moment to just notice your breath and how your body moves in response to it. The belly will lift on your inhale and soften and lower as you breathe out. Breathe here for at least five breaths. Just the act of counting your breath will begin to have a calming effect.

Step 3: Now begin to focus on your exhale. Press the navel to the spine to fully release all the inhaled air. When you think all the air is gone, press more. You’ll be surprised to find more air in there! Breathe like this, focusing on the exhales only for five more breaths.

Step 4: Slowly breathe in, counting to five. Notice your stomach lifting, your belly moving up and away from your back. Feel your chest widen up and out to the sides.

Step 5: As you exhale, try to count to seven. Really push the navel in to empty all the air completely. Repeat inhaling for a five count and exhaling for a seven count for at least five full rounds of breath. More rounds are welcome if you are feeling up to it. Build up slowly and eventually you may be able to commit to a longer, regular breathing practice.

Done regularly, at any time of day, this breathing practice will help you feel focused, refreshed and mentally alert.

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!