Resound Yoga

Yoga with Hope Clunie


Forrest Yoga Intensive in January 2017

Put it on your calendar! I am leading a Forrest Yoga Ceremony and Intensive on January 7, 2017. This intensive is for anyone interested in experiencing the sweetness of a two hour yoga practice! While the practice will not be “easy” or “gentle”, it will be all levels. I believe in doing what you CAN do, not expecting you to do what you can’t, and I will always offer modifications for more challenging postures.

Please consider showing up to sweat, go deeper, and maybe learn something new!

Link to the workshop is below:

http://www.kulamovement.com/workshops-events/2016/11/21/embodying-your-courageous-self-a-forrest-yoga-fullsizerender

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Yoga and My Depression

I have lived with depression since I was 10 years old. It is one of those things that is just a part of my life. And much like someone with a physical disability learns to modify how they move to get around, I have had to learn how to manage my emotions to get around. Yoga helps, which is why I love it so much, and to teach it to others brings me so much joy. But yoga in itself is not enough. To manage depression you must practice self-awareness and self-care in all facets of your life.

The intention I set at the start of 2015 was to learn how to love myself. I imagined that after a year of trying to do this, 2016 would roll around and I would be “cured” of all the ailments that self-deprecating thoughts inflict. As usual, my prediction was lacking an accurate perspective, and now, more than half-way through the Year of the Sheep, I find myself grappling with this problem still. But it is not without Hope, because I can feel myself making progress.

This post is an offering to anyone coping with depression, or simply issues of self-esteem. Make a commitment to love yourself. Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful, you are strong, you are a good friend, mother, father, listener, a talented artist, writer, athlete, a caring person, a person who is doing their best just like everyone else. You aren’t alone, and people love you.

I want to share a passage from a book called The Depression Book, by Cheri Huber, which I think every person with depression should read.

“It might take a lifetime to completely turn this around, but is there anything more important than bringing compassion to the one person you know really needs it? And if that old fear of becoming self indulgent rises up, just remind yourself that you are in training for being able to be unconditionally compassionate toward all of life. If you cannot be kind to the one person whose suffering you can actually feel, you will never be able to be kind to anyone. This is the most unselfish work a human being can do. ”

Also, from the book, a list of suggestions to help you practice self-care. Here are my favorites:

Consciously put yourself first at least once a day.

Break any big task into several small ones–take baby steps.

Ask yourself how you feel and listen to the answer.

Stop assuming you know yourself.

Congratulate yourself each time you accomplish anything!

Make time for people who make you feel good.

Say kind things to yourself.

Give yourself time off from hard things–no decisions, no big changes.

Let yourself say, “Me first.”

Practice not believing the negative, critical voices in your head [tell them to stfu!]

Ask those who you love what they believe about who you are, and then say those things to yourself.

Go for a walk and take in as much nature as you can.

I would add: do a yoga pose that makes you feel free:) Chest opener at the wall is a favorite of mine, as well as supta baddha konasana and handstand. Any yoga poses that help you with the blues? Share them with me! And then take a deep breath:) IMG_0070


One Strong, Badass Bitch

I want to write because lately I have been feeling judgmental of my own body. I am so thankful though, to have strong self awareness to know that I don’t dislike how my body looks, but how it feels. That is what’s on my mind: how Yoga has helped me accept and love how my body looks.

I feel yuck because my practice has been irregular for months. But when I do make the time to practice it feels SO AMAZING. That is one blessing of having an irregular practice, you walk out feeling that beginner-like bliss because your body has missed feeling that way. Anyway, I am still settling into a rhythm after months of being sick, working through depression, and giving a strong focus to rewiring some of my tendencies towards self-mutilating thoughts. This is why I don’t like how my body FEELS right now, but that is easily remedied, compared to the battle with body image.

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I grew up in an environment where appearance was very important, and I felt extra pressure to be thin because my older sister has always had a thinner body type than I. I was also tormented for being “fat” every day of my 5th grade year by almost all 25 kids in my class. Lastly, I believe now that I used food as a substitute for the expression of love, acceptance and affection that was lacking in my life.

I always hated my body. Hated how broad my shoulders were, my belly, my arms and forearms especially. Although I wore tank tops and short shorts when I was younger, I always felt self conscious in them, but felt if I wore anything baggier it would make me look bigger. So I wore the tight clothes and SUCKED my belly in at all times.

Which brings me to yoga, specifically Forrest Yoga. My friend Margaret once pointed out to me that Forrest Yoga teachers have a particular gait. I think this is true. We step with an intentionality, and structural integrity. I used to scuffle my feet when I walked, barely picking up my leg to step forward. That’s very representational about how Forrest Yoga and teaching has changed how I live in my body. We don’t look like the hard Ashtanga or Power yoga folks, our muscles are supple: strong but flexible and sensitive to feeling. I mention this because I used to be self conscious about not having that body: as a teacher I felt like I had to represent a “perfect” muscular and toned physique. Here’s why I don’t give a fuck about that nonsense: I can do some crazy shit with my body.

I can balance on my arms. I can hold poses for a long time without feeling close to giving up. I can stay in Warrior 2 for a wicked long time and my legs don’t care! They love it. I mean, it’s still hard, but I’ve practiced enough to know how to use my breath and body to support it. In my Advanced Teacher Training, the classes were 3.5 hours of intense sweatiness and advanced postures and my body could do it! Who cares what your body looks like if it is strong enough to carry you through a 3 hour yoga practice?!

So, what I’m trying to say is this: don’t try to force your body to change and look different. Beauty isn’t dependent on the shape of your body, but the glow in your face when you smile, how your eyes reflect your soul, and how your posture communicates “I love this body of mine.” If you don’t like how you look, try a physical practice. Maybe swimming, or pilates, or YOGA. And instead of doing that activity in order to get thinner, do it to feed your spirit, do it to make you strong INSIDE.

SEATTLE YOGA IN THE PARK: GREENLAKE

 

Greenlake

Greenlake is a park in Seattle with a three mile walking and biking path around it. There are several sandy spots resembling “beaches”, docks, baseball diamonds and playfields, and a boat rental place. It is a great place to practice yoga because you don’t feel so exposed, what with everyone focused more on getting around the lake than people watching. You can practice in the sun or in the shade, near people or away from people, and different yoga teachers and organizations host outdoor, usually free, classes there in the summer.

I practiced on the east side of the lake, close to Tangletown. It was breezy, quiet, and the biggest distraction were the people jogging by on the gravel path next to the road. There is something about the continual movement of people in one direction that makes you feel like less of a spectacle.


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SEATTLE YOGA IN THE PARK: GASWORKS

INTENTION: To take my mat (well, my boyfriend’s mat since he never uses it) to parks in the city and practice yoga.

MOTIVATION: My home practice is a mess. The kitchen is too close to my mat, and even turning my mobile devices on silent is not enough to deter me from wondering what’s new with them. My schedule doesn’t always allow me to go to yoga classes, so I need to find a way to get yoga-ing into my day.

WHY PARKS?: Spring and summer in Seattle is the stuff dreams are made of. Beautiful views, beautiful sounds, beautiful air, beautiful water, beautiful mountains, beautiful grass…it’s a different way of taking in the beauty. And a different way of practicing yoga–outside a studio, outside a gym. Parks are easy to access, and the presence of people encourages you to stay within your practice flow.

WHAT ELSE: I will record reflections of my experience in each place, and compile a list of the best parks in Seattle for personal yoga practice.

 

Gasworks is one of my favorite places in Seattle. It is so weird. Those big ugly gas things are somehow beautiful and fit perfectly into that landscape. I love looking across Lake Union at Gasworks because it looks like a little amusement park from a Tim Burton movie.

I went to Gasworks today because I needed to do yoga ASAP. I was upset. Earlier, I was reminded of the agony of being an introvert. I am not entirely comfortable with my status as an introvert. I deeply envy my extrovert friends and boyfriend and wish I had that whatever-it-is to be comfortable in my own skin around strangers. Thus, the theme for my practice.

I set up my mat on the concrete slab near the water. And that sucked for my sit bones and knees so I moved it to a goose-poop free patch of grass (that is one issue with Gasworks, being so close to the water, the geese love this spot as an eating and dumping ground). The grass was really nice, a perfect balance of soft and sturdy, it wasn’t clumpy or too long. I made it through meditation and pranayama with zero distraction, just the warm, occasionally breezy air around me and the sounds of swallows chirping nearby. This was the setting for most of my practice, it was truly amazing, but I did go at 1:25pm so I’m sure the scene on the weekends or after normal working hours would be different. There were some teenagers riding skateboards on the slab, but I blame myself for choosing an area so close to a perfect skateboarding venue. In the middle of my practice, I could see out of the corner of my eye, a man approaching me with a petition. I hoped he would see that I was IN THE ZONE and pass me by but he didn’t. He started to speak to me and I cut him off “I already signed that” and stepped into plank-chaturanga-cobra-downdog. Pretty rude of me but I was annoyed that he thought it OK to interrupt a woman in her yoga practice and that’s what came out.

While in svasana, one of those sea planes was gearing up to take off right next to Gasworks, so that wasn’t really ideal, but I still felt satisfied at the end.

 

Pros of Yoga at Gasworks:

  • Tons of open space without tree shade
  • Near the water with amazing view of Seattle skyline
  • Great grass quality
  • Generally peaceful on weekday afternoons
  • Option to practice on hard or softer surface

 

Cons of Yoga at Gasworks:

  • Goose poop everywhere
  • Attracts many people, can be distracting
  • Sea planes are loud
  • Don’t practice on the big hill, that just wouldn’t work

 

I had a good practice as Gasworks, despite the intermittent interruption. The water provides a breeze that connected me to my gratitude for being able to practice outside today. Again, this was my one experience on this one day, every day and person is different.

YOGA ON!

 


The Practice of Vairagya

Yesterday my phone disappeared. It was there one minute and gone the next. The whereabouts of my phone remain a mystery but over the course of the day I became aware of a few things, including my attachment to it and the ways I have adapted (or regressed) since I started relying on my phone for its various functions.

Vairagya is a yoga practice of non attachment. We can become reliant on many things, some physical and tangible, others abstract and emotional. We can get attached to another person, to an idea or belief, or to something like a very smart brick of plastic. My reaction to losing the ability to use my phone was strong. I immediately felt disconnected from all around me. I had thoughts running through my head like, “How will I call this person? How will I look this up? How will I get directions to there?” I felt helpless. Then I took a step back, remembered the word VAIRAGYA and started judging myself for being attached to this thing! Then I took another step back and saw the shortsightedness in both of those thoughts. To shame oneself for being attached is as much of an issue as the attachment itself.

So I started rewinding. Remembering, how did we all get along without a device like this? Piecing this together was a valuable lesson in presence, intention and patience. As a society we are so accustomed to the immediacy of everything: communication, acquisition of information. We don’t have to plan much ahead of time because our phones in any instant can get us directions, find a coffee shop, call our friends to meet up on a whim. We also get used to being available at almost any moment to respond to a call, text or e-mail, and when we aren’t available we feel some need to apologize for that, I did at least.

Losing the device was not only a loss of convenience but a loss of a line to my social universe. Our phones act as a rope between us and everyone we know. And having that taken away, not having the option to contact anyone at any time, is an adjustment. I realized how very many things I take for granted because of my phone.

I have now been over twenty-four hours without a phone and feel a real sense of calm. Finally, I settled into a place where I see that my phone is helpful and a source of convenience, it is not necessary, as long as others have another way of communicating with me.

That said, I am getting a replacement phone soon, but will use it differently. I encourage you to take a full 24 hours without your phone. On a day off, let your friends know you will be without your phone, and see what you come to realize about your dependence on that thing. Plan a trip without it, write down directions or use a map. Detach from your phone and your reliance on it.