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A blog post by Mary Moscarello. To read all Mary’s blog posts, click here.

I know we’re all stuck inside these days. But it may surprise you to hear me say that I’m grateful. Easy for me to say? Well you may be right. Before all of this happened, I was very accustomed to working from home. I’ve done it for nearly a decade, the better part of that time, on a full-time basis.

In talking with family this week, I realized that I pretty much left the house in my car only to go buy groceries, go to church and practice or teach yoga. All but my liberty to go on the first errand has been taken from me. A lesson in taking things for granted? You betcha.

And yet, in the middle of all this upheaval, I am finding my sense of gratitude really keeps me going.

I’ve seen wise teachers advising and sharing a message of grounding. Which makes sense. In order to help us ground, we connect to elements that help us feel rooted. Often you’ll begin a yoga class by becoming aware of your root or muladhara chakra. The seven chakras, subtle energy centers, are said to run up the spine. Each chakra has its own color and sound that can be chanted to further deepen the connection to that energy center.

Located at the base of the spine and our connection to our sense of security and safety – the root chakra is a logical place to start if one is feeling unsteady or unsafe. Its color is red, the sound is LAM (lahm). Balasana or child’s pose is commonly offered to open the root chakra.

Here’s a simple root chakra meditation that you can practice if you are feeling anxious or any time of day, no matter where you are.

Sit tall, shoulders back and down, chin parallel with the floor.

Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Close your eyes and breathe this way a few times and allow your body to relax.

Draw your awareness to the area below your tailbone. Take a moment to observe any tension there. No judgement.

Imagine a red glowing light at that location. Picture the glow small at first and then let it slowly enlarge as if an ember from a fire were there. See if you can link your breath to the ember’s growth. Inhale – the ember glows brighter, exhale – the ember expands. Practice this breathing and visualization for as long as you like, perhaps as long as five minutes as you become more adept at it.

When you feel ready, blink open the eyes and observe how you feel.

For me though, meditating on gratitude provides a sensation of safety in a more tangible way. If you mapped gratitude on a chakra chart, it might fall partway between the heart and throat chakras. Makes sense, between the place where we feel love and the place from where we communicate.

When I begin listing all the things for which I’m grateful, I usually end up counting a few more (hundred) things that I hadn’t planned on numbering. It would be foolish to try to count all the things for which I am grateful during this pandemic, because I might actually run out of digits – but here are a few (in no particular order)

I’m grateful that technology allows me to practice yoga at home with familiar teachers. I’m grateful I can still teach my students in a virtual way. I’m grateful so many teachers, studios, museums, theaters, musicians, learning institutions (Yale, y’all!) are offering free access to performances (The Met), courses, meditation, pranayama practice and other ways to connect.

I’m grateful my parents (my whole family and all my loved ones for that matter) are healthy and well where they are and that my recent birthday gathering did not end up endangering their health.

I’m grateful my daughter, home from college for the rest of the term, loves to cook and to bake and is quite good at both those things. (The above is a vegan banana bread that was heavenly – didn’t last a whole 24 hours) I’m grateful for the abundance of healthy food I’m able to afford and provide my family.

Finally, for now – I’m grateful for you, dear reader. I hope that in some small way I’ve inspired you to ponder the things for which you are grateful these days and that doing so brings you a sense of safety and security in these challenging times.

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!