Elena Brower: Nantucket August 2014

*This post is modified from it’s original publishing on October 24th, 2011.

Elena Brower at Burning Man 2013

Elena Brower at Burning Man 2013

 

It goes almost without saying that over the years, I have had lots of teachers, including the formidable ones who certified me long ago, but I was still hungry: wanting, needing, urning for a new wellspring of inspiration and information. I wanted someone who was going to push me to look at my ugly bits and hold me accountable for my insecurities.

Admittedly, I can be a skeptical, judgmental, and kind of fickle yogini (shh, don’t tell anyone; I’m working on it). I’ve often felt a little out of place in the more cannoized yoga lineages. Dogma turns me off and I’ve never been one to follow hard and fast rules. So it was that I had been steadily working my way through various traditions (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Dharma) and styles (PranaFlow, Anusara, Yin, Vinyasa Flow) and picking and choosing the teachings I liked best. In 2011, the journey had been 13 years in the running, and at that point I probably had a better idea of what I didn’t like than what I liked.

Anusara in particular was not a style that resonated with me. The language around hearts melting all over the place felt a little, I don’t know, gooey. Historically, I stayed away from the Shinny Happy People, and I wasn’t the first person to think that the Anusara bunch might be drinking the Kool-Aid. Still, when I first became aware of Elena Brower, she seemed different…a little less effervescent, more honest, less airbrushed, more real. I’d known for a while what a big deal she had become in New York City yoga circles, so when I began to see her listed on the instructor line-up for Yoga Journal Conferences, and teaching at large-scale events like Wanderlust and Burning Man, I thought hmmm, maybe I should be paying attention. I started doing a little digging.

I stumbled on a video of Elena giving a  talk she called “The Freedom of Discipleship” at Wanderlust in 2010 on YouTube… and she lost me.

I wasn’t into it. In fact, I had such a negative reaction to the topic of discipleship, I immediately crossed her off my short list. In the beginning of her talk she spoke about being a skeptic,  - okay, check, I can hang with that – but then went on to talk about the process of becoming John Friend’s disciple – no dice. I’ve never offered myself up to a singular satguru, except maybe my son. I can work with the term student, but disciple feels really scary. Anyway, I didn’t want to hear that kneeling-at-the-teacher’s-feet dogma. So I gave up on her.

Elena on the cover of YJ

And yet… a week later my November 2011 issue of Yoga Journal showed up, with Elena on the cover.

Somehow Elena turned into an itch I needed to scratch. So it was that during my first ever 60-day Yoga Challenge, I decided it was time to practice with her. The classes on YogaGlo, the much lauded virtual yoga studio, gave me the chance I was looking for. I had originally signed up for the Glo just because Kathryn Budig is on their staff. As it turned out, Elena was too.

From the first moment I practiced with her online I was hooked.

It was the fall of 2011, and I had been on a long and exhausting search for my next teacher or mentor.

And then all of a sudden, one random Sunday afternoon, there she was; instructing me through the screen of my 14″ MacBook, in the middle of my own living room. Since then, she has become one of my most beloved influences.

 

Why the fascination? Why the draw? It could be because she’s not just a  yoga teacher, but she’s also a mother, a writer, an artist and a designer. I think maybe it’s because she was a skeptic in the beginning, a non-believer, just like me. But mostly it’s because, for me anyway, her message rings true. Elena urges us to “welcome ourselves”. It’s sounds cheezy right? Yeah, I thought so too- however, listen a little closer to what she’s got going on, and it’s probably exactly what you need to hear. ‘Cause if you’re anything like me, full of self-doubt, aniexty around success and stability or uncertain that the path you’re on is the one for you, she’s going to help you feel supported.

Since then I have taken half a dozen classes with Elena at Vira Yoga: the studio she founded in New York (which sadly for me is closing it’s doors at the end of this summer), several large scale classes with her at Wanderlust, and I’ve taken her Life Coaching for Yoga Teachers tele courses via the Handel Group.

In March of 2013, just after I was first diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, I was lucky enough to be treated to a weekend immersion with Elena at Kripalu. During that weekend she was gracious enough to sit down with me privately several times and offered me coaching on coping with cancer. She wrote me little love notes and handed over her cell phone number.  She frequently kept in touch during the first few months of chemotherapy, and would often tell me “you can do this”.

My point in illustrating all this? That even for “America’s most beloved yogi” she makes herself available to her students and to her clients. This is not always true for the yogic elite, the conference headliners or YJ cover models, but it is true of Elena. Indeed she has achieved incredible notoriety and financial success in a world over-saturated with yoga teachers competing to make $5 per head, studios on every city block and dime-a-dozen 200-hour yoga teacher trainings. But that hasn’t changed her.

During her classes, Elena invites you over and over again to soften into yourself. To create space to hold yourself tenderly. To cultivate elegance and truthfulness. Her practices tend to center around self-acceptance and love. When you leave the mat, you feel grounded yet more open than ever.

And cheesy as it all may sound, especially coming from a rocker girl covered in tattoos with a penchance for motorcycles and Doc Martins, when Elena instructs me to “Get over the self abnegation; (the) rejecting of (myself). ” and “To live in (my) body with total self-acceptance.” I want to do as she asks. I want to be accepting of my true self. For as she so conciscely says, “The Truth is where the abundance is”. And that my friends, is the what the whole journey, challenge, lifestyle and commitment are all about. Unveiling the truth.

When you study with her she will repeatedly tell you that as yogis “our mission on this planet is to spread love.” and most importantly, when she says it you believe her

Art of Attention with Elena Brower

Art of Attention: Nantucket 2014

I am excited and honored to be bringing my friend and teacher to Nantucket this summer. Please, please, please don’t miss this chance to study with Elena right here, in the heart of Nantucket at the stunning Dreamland Film & Performing Arts Center. She will be available for you Friday evening, August 1st and Saturday, all day, August 2nd.

We have organized Elena’s time with us into 3 distinct but cohesive programs. You can sign up for one or all three!

OPEN: Open level practice & meditation for learning how to stay open internally when we want to close or protect ourselves, whether in asana or in relationships with others and ourselves.  Expect a comprehensive hath a practice with an emphasis on mild, healing backbends.  Friday 6:00pm-8:30pm $65

LISTEN: Intermediate level practice for cultivating stillness and steadiness even in the midst of real action.  Expect a series of twists and backbends to engage our listening and our deepest quiet.  Saturday 9:00am-12:00pm $85

TRUST: Open level practice and life coaching for cultivating trust in our bodies, our minds, our hearts and our community.  Expect a well-rounded practice of forward bends, hip openers and arm balances. Saturday 2:30-5:00pm $65

You can register for the entire weekend for only $200 here. We anticipate this event selling out, so be sure to secure your spot. 


We know getting to and from Nantucket and looking for a place to stay can be challenging. To that end, we have several yogis in our community who are willing to host visiting students for a nominal donation or for free. To get in touch with a host yogi, please email Shannah, Director of The Yoga Room at shannahyoga@gmail.com

Additionally here is a list of accommodations:

Hi-Nantucket: a south shore youth hostel
31 Western AvenueNantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-0433
The Robert’s Collection: A collection of inns in downtown Nantucket
11 India St, Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-0600
Seven Sea Street Inn: A Nantucket Bed & Breakfast
7 Sea Street Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-3577
21 Broad Hotel: A boutique hotel in downtown Nantucket
21 Broad Street Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-3577
The Nantucket Hotel & Resort: large scale hotel in downtown Nantucket
77 Easton Street Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-4747
The Veranda House: A retro-chich hotel  in downtown Nantucket
3 Step Lane, Nantucket, MA 02554
(508) 228-0695
If you still need convincing… here are a few more videos to watch:

I hope you come share this very special practice with us.

Love,

Caitlin

TYR Manager & Workshop Producer

Spotlight on Megan Dubois!

In her own words. . .
I love to learn. I love to read. I love to move my body. Those three essential truths inform the way I structure and guide a yoga practice. I enjoy studying in a variety of styles and with a variety of teachers. One never knows when a fresh phrase or approach might penetrate the mind of a student and allow them to absorb a previously foreign concept. As a teacher I love the ‘aha’ moments when a student’s body slips into a more comfortable and beneficial alignment or when I see the mind shift from a place of thinking to a place of feeling. My classes are breath and core centered. I’m a firm believer that if you know how to breathe and connect to your bandhas you can do just about anything. Personally, the practice of yoga has helped me become a better parent. I am far less reactive now than I was 20 years ago. Some of that may have come with age but I like to credit yoga for teaching me to sit with the “what is.” Every life has its challenges but I have found that a committed yoga practice can help you get through the tough spots. As my friend and teacher J. Brown likes to say, ” Life hurts. Yoga helps.”

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Nothing makes me happier than the sight of a new student on the mat, so I’m thrilled to be teaching the Yoga Basics series. This series provides new students an opportunity to workshop various postures, to ask questions, and to find a way to adapt a practice to fit the needs of each student. It also provides veteran students a way to fine-tune and hone their practice! I also teach a Mellow Yoga class that incorporates breath and movement and is more restorative in nature than what you might find in a traditional flow-type class. Please join me on the mat!

Spotlight on Susan Browne: Teaching to Learn

Like many yoga teachers, I did not pursue certification in order to teach; I had the simple intention of “getting better” at my asana/pranayama practice. I also felt strongly compelled to study the Classical Yoga teachings, and to better understand the human body and the ineffable experience of finding oneself actually living in one. But sitting in front of a room full of students? It struck me as being about as desirable a pursuit as going through a tax audit. Of course, regardless of my personal intentions, no certification would be given without a demonstration of a candidate’s teaching ability. I specifically remember the first time I led a class (a simple ‘practice teach’ for my fellow trainees) as part of my Kundalini training more than 15 years ago. I tuned in, chanting the “Ong Namo” mantra, and got the students breathing and moving. I knew what to do; how exhilarating to pull off such a feat! But suddenly I froze; the magic had somehow worn off! In a haze of panic, embarrassment and failure, I looked to my teacher and said, “I can’t.” I’ll never forget his response–he gazed at me with calm, non-judgmental knowingness and said simply, “You can.” In spite of my doubts, I believed him, and I went on. And so I’ve continued to go on, through trainings and extensive studies in various styles of yoga practice (the aforementioned Kundalini, along with Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Anusara, yoga therapy–the list goes on!), as well as the ancient texts. The experience taught me that if I could do what I never thought I could do (in this case, teaching yoga) and it could bring such a sense of profound joy and accomplishment, then others, too, if guided, could exceed their own expectations in some aspect of life meaningful to them. My teacher had demonstrated his belief in me, and showed me that as a teacher, a simple, genuine faith in others can help facilitate achievements otherwise unimaginable. He taught me the value of exploring possibilities, allowing vulnerability, riding out discomfort in order to realize untapped potential. That’s what yoga does!
While I expect my list of continuing eduction pursuits will grow even longer over time, these days my students have become my teachers; I learn from them and am inspired by them continuously. They are mirrors of my own struggles with physical and mental limitations, self-discipline, and misguided expectations or attachment to outcome.

While I daily draw on my years of study and training, if I have anything to offer students at all it is my desire and commitment to guide them in the yoga so that it may reveal to them that they are already in possession of what is most important. Everything they need to know to live comfortably, blissfully, in themselves and in the world, every pose they are capable of expressing, is already inside them. We keep unlocking the door to a world of possibilities with the key of yoga. As a teacher, I just keep handing students that key.
My classes lately offer students an opportunity to experience the demystification of the asanas while losing oneself in the mysterious Pranic flow.

The practice focuses on dissolving perceived boundaries; students develop and engage muscular strength and stability and marry it with a cultivation of expansiveness and freedom of movement. There is clear guidance and assistance, and lots of options for variations and modifications in both of the class styles I teach: Mellow Yoga (level 1), and Slow Flow (level 2). The Mellow classes are non-vigorous and offer a deep stretch for students at any level, from beginners with no experience, to advanced practitioners or athletes looking to dial down the intensity on the physical level. Slow Flow presents an opportunity to work harder and learn or practice more advanced poses, within the context of a continuous energetic flow. In all classes, there is the firm assertion that there is no one particular way to look in a pose, there is instead an encouragement toward the practice of simply being present, feeling truly alive in one’s self to all accompanying sensation in any given pose, on a multitude of levels.

To quote Erich Schiffman, “the goal is not to tie ourselves in knots…we’re already tied in knots. The aim is to untie the knots in our hearts. The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving, and peaceful power in the universe.”
Sat nam, and Namaste!
Susan

 

StudioLiveTV

Introducing our NEW online classes!

The Yoga Room + StudioLiveTV = BLISS: your favorite TYR classes available where ever, when ever. 

While nothing can ever replace showing up to class in person, StudioLiveTV provides the next best thing – a way for you to stay on top of your routine and remain engaged with your instructor and classmates, even when your schedule prevents you from coming to the studio. StudioLiveTV brings your class to you, via the internet device you choose – iPad, iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, personal computer, etc. – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is completely secure – accessible only to members and friends of The Yoga Room who have their own login and password. Click here for more details.

Online packages and subscriptions are available – pick the one that is right for you after login!

A NOTE ABOUT ONLINE VIDEOS:

The Yoga Room has partnered with StudioLiveTV to provide you with dynamic, un-canned footage of Nantucket Yoga Room studio classes. If your screen is dark, you see an empty room or you hear static, move forward 45 seconds or so, and your class should begin. We do not charge you for the first 20 minutes, so find the one that works for you. All of these classes are taped live. We are presenting them to you raw and unedited, bringing you into a very “real” and authentic Yoga Room class experience.

As our teachers adjust to the live taping of classes, we hope to continue to improve our online offerings. Please be patient as we build our library of videos, and check back frequently for updated content. Currently there are limited classes up for viewing.  That will soon change, and the service will hopefully be a wonderful addition to your Yoga Practice!

Begin experiencing The Yoga Room in the comfort of your own home or office by logging in here:

Yoga Room Focus

Every few weeks The Yoga Room will be presenting topics based on yoga philosophy, principles and practices, and also sharing dharma as it relates to our own practice and life.  We will be continuing these topics and themes in our classes during the same time frame. We hope to facilitate a broader understanding and knowledge of what it means to truly practice yoga on all levels in your life. . .

The Practice of Self Gratitude

Gratitude is the sweetest of all the practices for living the dharma in daily life and the most easily cultivated, requiring the least sacrifice for what is gained in return. It is a very powerful form of mindfulness practice, that allows us to rejoice amidst all life’s suffering. Practicing mindfulness of gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding. Cultivating thankfulness elicits feelings of generosity, which create further joy. Gratitude can soften a heart that has become too guarded, and it builds the capacity for forgiveness, which creates the clarity of mind that encourages spiritual development.

The practice of gratitude is not in any way a denial of life’s difficulties. We live in troubling times, and no doubt you’ve experienced many challenges, uncertainties, & disappointments in your own life. The understanding you gain from practicing gratitude frees you from being lost or identified with either the negative or positive aspects of life, letting you meet life in each moment as it rises.

An important step in practicing gratitude is to actively notice things you are grateful for throughout your regular day, situations and interactions that are irritating or frustrating. There is a level of well-being and universal cooperation that is supporting you even in the midst of a so called bad day. You do so not to get out of a bad mood or to be a nicer person, but with the intention of clearly seeing the true situation of your life. The particulars may remain the same, but the inner experience of how your life is unfolding begins to shift. Slowly you become clearer about what really matters to you, and there is more ease in your daily experience.

When you are in a deep state of gratitude, you will often spontaneously feel the presence of grace. The grace in receiving a human life is that it grants you the capacity to experience that which is beyond the mind and body – call it god, allah, emptiness, spirit, or the Ground of Absolute. Reflect on this: You, with all your flaws, have been chosen for this opportunity to consciously taste life, to know it for what it is, and to make of it what you are able.

This gift of a conscious life is grace, even when you life is filled with great difficultly and it may not feel like a gift at the time. The grace of a conscious life, and having a mind that can know”this moment is like this” is the root of all wonder, from which gratitude flows. The wonder, the mystery, is that you, like everyone else, are given this short, precious time of conscious embodiment in which you can directly know yourself. However you find life to be – cruel or kind, sorrowful or joyous, bland or stimulating, indifferent or filled with love – you get the privilege of knowing it firsthand. Your sense of well-being is no longer contingent on external circumstances and you are able to rejoice that amidst all life’s suffering there exists joy. You realize that pain and joy are part of a mysterious whole. When this state of gratitude starts to blossom, your mind becomes more spacious, quieter, and your heart receives its first taste of the long-sought release from fear and wanting. This is grace.

by Philip Moffit/ Dharma Yoga Columnist for the Yoga Journal

First Annual 30 Day Yoga Challenge

 

All classes on Monday, Oct 29th, still a GO!  - keep posted throughout the day!

Sign-up for The Yoga Room’s First Annual 30 Day Yoga Challenge, and track your practice here at the studio, on our chart. All you have to do is practice, as much as possible, all month long. You can practice at The Yoga Room, you can practice at the gym, you can practice at another studio; here or off-island, or you can practice at home. Each student who practices at least 3x a week for the ENTIRE month of October at The Yoga Room will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE 10-class pass.

We get: Your commitment, and your fiscal support of our studio and our super amazing, hard working, awesome local teachers.

You get: Extra motivation. Community support for your efforts. Improved quality of life.  A healthier mind, spirt and body. Improved flexibility and balance, increased strength, lower blood pressure, improved circulation, better digestion, increased mental clarity, reduced stress, and improved sense of self… and you’ll get to track your practice along side of all your favorite Yoga Room Teachers! Plus a chance to win ten FREE yoga classes. Really, what more could you want. Wait, don’t answer that.

How to do it:  Sign up at the studio by September 30th, by adding your name to the sign-up sheet on the clipboard on the desk. You’ll be included in the Track-Your-Practice chart we’ll post October 1st. Every time you practice, at home, at The Yoga Room, or somewhere else, you’ll be able to put an “Om” sticker in the box according to the day of the month. If your practice happens at TYR, and you get in at least 3 TYR practices per week, you’ll be entered into the Win-A-Pass drawing on November 1st. For more details email Caitlin at caitlin@caitlinmarcoux.net

The Cornerstone of the Yamas – Ahimsa

The word “Ahimsa” translates as “non-violence” and “non-harming”. At the root of this moral code is not simply the absence of these concepts but in the cultivation of kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things.  The root of vegetarianism in the yogic culture stems from ahimsa however it does not necessarily imply that we eat no living thing or that we should not defend ourselves: rather it is about exercising judgement and extending kindness toward ourselves in terms of fully taking care of ourselves.

“Should we as vegetarians find ourselves in a situation where there is only meat to eat, is it better to starve to death than to eat what is there?  If we still have something to do in this life, such as family responsibilities, then we should avoid doing anything that may cause us harm or prevent us from carrying out our duties.  The answer in this situation is clear – it would show a lack of consideration and arrogance to become stuck on our principles.  So ahimsa has to do with our duties and responsibilities too.  It could even mean that we must fight if our life is in danger.” (1)

Fundamentaly practicing Ahimsa is to adopt a considered attitude and make conscious choices in every situation. The spirit  Ahimsa is to combat cruelty, injustice and violence in favor of  cultivating kindness toward ourselves, others and the earth at large.

1. passage taken from “The Heart of Yoga” T.K.V. Desikachar

Flight of the Yogi with Kathryn Budig

Footage from “Flight of the Yogi” with Kathryn Budig: August 17, 18, 19, 2012

April-May, 2012

Please join us for our most exciting event of the summer: 3 Days with Kathryn Budig. Broken into 4 segments, each 2-2.5 hour session will be different. Our weekend begins Friday evening with Kathryn’s Aim True Authentic Flow, Saturday boasts two segments, both a part of Kathryns signature Flight of the Yogi workshop. Saturday morning’s practice will focus on arm balances, while Saturday afternoon’s practice will focus on inversions. Sunday’s Spice Up Your Practice session will focus on “new and exciting Sun Salutation variations, fun transitions, vigorous vinyasa, and new exit strategies.” Each session will run between $40-$45 with a discount given to students who register for the entire event. Registration will be limited to the first 60 students to register. I have had the pleasure of studying with Kathryn several times now, so I can honestly say this is a weekend not to be missed. Sign up now!

Workshop Schedule:

Friday, August 17th (6-8pm) Authentic Flow: Set every practice, day and breath with the power of your intention. Tap into what it means for us to ‘aim true’ on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Then we’ll get out our mats and find our inner archer and physically manifest through asana what it means to be strong, aware and compassionate. Creative sequencing will create discipline with the perfect blend of humor and thoughtfulness. Come join the hunt for our authentic selves. Please bring a strap, block, paper and a pen.

Saturday, August 18th (9-12pm) Flight of the Yogi; Arm Balances: Join Kathryn for a lighthearted workshop of exploration on our hands! This workshop is geared towards both fledglings of arm balances and full grown flyers. We will explore the foundation of arm balancing, the technicalities of leaving the ground on our hands and the playful mindset needed to maintain the balance. We’ll begin with bakasana (crow) and explore other poses such as flying pigeon, side crow, grasshopper, eka pada koundinyasana, handstand, forearm balance and many other variations. Beginners will learn how to enter these poses, advanced practitioners will learn new entries and possibilities. Come with any questions and leave with a refreshed spirit and richer understanding of these amazing postures.

Saturday, August 18th (12:30-5pm) Flight of the Yogi; Inversions: Everyone dreams of flying but fears the chance of a crash and burn. This workshop builds a strong foundation of strength in the mindset and physical body to break through preconceived notions of our abilities. We are gifted beyond our imagination, and this workshop will playful support and encourage your untapped potential to dance on your hands and see the world from a different view. Drop fear and step forward with a smile on your face and love in your heart and you’ll already be lighter and ready to flip it around.

Sunday, August 19th (9-11am) Spice Up Your Practice: Love yoga but feel like you’re in a bit of a slump? Freshen up your routine and add some spice to your mat! This dynamic workshop explores new and exciting Sun Salutation variations, fun transitions, vigorous vinyasa, and new exit strategies. Add life to your yoga practice through an energetic class that gets the pulse and laughter flowing. Come with an open mind, a hungry appetite for excitement, and a towel to mop it all down.

About Kathryn:

As one of the youngest and most widely recognized faces in yoga, Kathryn Budig’s appetite for yoga is infectious. Kathryn’s playful mixture of challenging classes with her lovable personality is the recipe for a truly inspiring class. As an avid food lover, she is also passionate about sharing healthy, organic and eco-friendly recipes.

Kathryn shares her zest for life, yoga & food as the Women’s Health Magazine yoga expert along with her contributor writings for The Huffington Post, Yoga Journal, Gaiam, The Daily Love and MindBodyGreen. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal, Yoga International, Om Yoga and Common Ground. Budig has been featured on E!Entertainment, The Food Network, Shape and The New York Times. She also serves as the brand representative for apparel company ToeSox and ambassador for Pangea Organics. She is currently writing Rodale’s The Big Book of Yoga.

Kathryn is dedicated to giving back to her community. She co-founded “Poses for Paws”, an organization dedicated to raising money for animal shelters through yoga. You can practice with Kathryn around the globe or save yourself the plane ticket by practicing with her weekly online at Yogaglo.com. Find her on faculty at Yogaworks Santa Monica, Kripalu or through her Gaiam DVD, “Aim True Yoga”.

Video Footage

Arm Balances & Inversions

KB Interviewed on Time Warner SoCal

Sun Salutes with KB