July 08, 2015

Five Feathers of Aerial Yoga by Donald Gecewicz



1. Balance
We rely much on the floor remaining where it is and on distributing our weight upon it on our two feet and, sometimes, a hand. Even Warrior 3 is bound to the floor. Black silk changes that relationship and re-balances. I like to swing wrapped in the “pod” at the end, feeling my ears and the little bones in the ears re-calculating balance and equilibrium. Once back on the floor, and in floor positions, I find that my balance is reset and refined.

And here’s a haiku
like any pose balancing
on slim fingertips.

2. Strength
In floor work, we both become strong and experience our strength through standing still. Standing still is a sensation with much meaning, given how unsettled everything is. Aerial involves more movement—but movement that is strengthening because it is steady. Hefting the body. Testing the arms. Lifting yourself up. Using the hips to pivot slowly. Muscles engage differently from positions on the floor, and the body becomes toned differently.

The daily forces
hold us up but wrist locks
unlock new strengths

3. Harmony
In Chinese poetry, a poem harmonizes with another if it reflects the tones of the words and the structure of the rimes. The poses in the air harmonize with poses on the floor. We are familiar with being dogs, warriors, and birds on the ground. Insight comes as we reconfigure the pose while suspended. A tree on a cliff, a dancer mid-leap, a tiger climbing. The poses in the air test muscles in a new way. It’s good to go from floor to mid-air, from aerial yoga to more traditional floor work, harmonizing the two styles. Hovering also realigns the skeleton, sometimes with a crackle toward symmetry.

That stork hovering
above the shining wood
may be me, airborne.

4. Antigravity
Aerial yoga is an easy experiment to feel what else supports us: Our arms suspended, our feet wrapped in cloth, the air itself, our hips and legs pointed up rather than down. Even if only a few feet off the ground, aerial positions alter our body’s anticipation of heft and perception of weight. We also feel, again, that air has mass. We slide and glide within the air as birds do. I am reminded of a Thai carving that I have of a hamsa, the sacred swan. The flight of the hamsa symbolizes moksha or nirvana--release. All that, and a good workout.

Antigravity
to arrive at perception
that there is no down

5. Learning to Fly
If you have misgivings about flipping over and remaining suspended, the way to dispel hesitancy is to do it. It enhances health to experience a minor fear melting away. Doing yoga with winged feet makes me a better airline passenger, a better flyer. I have felt my own body cutting the air, much as an airplane does. So there is a practical, psychic benefit.

That flight to Zurich
chocolates and levity:

cloudless, so much light.

April 14, 2015

Yoga IS For Everyone! by Maureen Littlefield


If you are 65 or older, with one or more joint replacements, you may think YOGA is not for you.
Consider my story:

     It begins when I first started to walk and my parents noticed I walked with a limp. My left leg was smaller and shorter than the right leg. Years of traction, braces, and physical therapy did not make me better. The Physicians did not know what was wrong. My parents had Pulmonary Tuberculosis and there were no cures in the early fifties and they passed away. When I was nine, my mother’s sister and her husband took me in their home, and my brother and sister went to other relatives. In those days no one could afford to take all three of us and raise us together. My Aunt Ruth, who I loved very much, took me to the University of Illinois where they said I had Tuberculosis of the left hip joint. My siblings did not contract the disease and I see it as fortunate that it settled in my hip and not in my lungs as I would not be here now.
When I was 15yrs old, my entire hip joint was removed and replaced with a portion of my fibula bone which is called a hip fusion. After 2yrs of medicinal treatment and the surgery my TB was gone. That hip fusion served me well for 31yrs, but the down side was that all of my muscles on the left side from the knee to lower back shriveled up
due to lack of use. So, in 1993 at the age of 47, they took down the fusion and put in a new artificial hip joint. What a joy this was as after much therapy I could ride a bike, bend over and tie my shoes and do many other everyday tasks.

     So, this brings me to the present. In 2012, at the age of 65, I had a left knee replacement and I was told “you need YOGA”.  This is not a direction in which I would have gone for exercise as I did not know or understand the value of YOGA. Now, after three years of taking YOGA classes, at least three to four times a week, my strength, flexibility and peace of mind have greatly improved. I had then and still have the good fortune to have Tracy Von Kaenel as my YOGA instructor. Tracy’s YOGA community is energetic, warm and supportive. She consistently brings a creative skill to each class (no two classes are alike) and more importantly she mentors each of us individually according to our need. She walks around the studio during class observing and making suggestions to modify our YOGA practice to our benefit.

     I am grateful for the progress I have made, in spite of many limitations, thanks to the unfailing skill, encouragement and good cheer Tracy brings to each class.

     COME JOIN US

November 26, 2014

Holiday Season

Once again it is time for the onslaught of holidays.  There are so many reasons to be filled with joy this season, but for some, it's easy to be overwhelmed.  It can be challenging to keep everything in balance as most of us are pulled and pushed in many directions, depleting our energy, finances and time.  As with other times in life the mantra "everything in moderation" can be an effective tool.  It is possible to go to the parties, handle the extra load on the finances and keep the good cheer alive if we learn to make good choices and protect ourselves in the process.  Remember that it's important to nurture your body and spirit so you can continue to be nurturing to others. It is not selfish to take care of you....it is in fact the greatest gift.  When you attend to your needs, the energy you bring into the world is from a place of love, contentment, grace.  Exactly what the world needs.  What a gift indeed.  Whatever it is you celebrate this season, celebrate with love and joy!


Holiday Class Schedule
All classes run as normal except for the following cancellations:
Thursday November 27th.....Thanksgiving
Wednesday December 24th.....Christmas Eve
Thursday December 25th.....Christmas Day
Thursday January 1st.....New Years Day

And look on the website for new classes starting in January including Aerial Yoga and Saturday classes!


October 12, 2014

A New Beginning


With the change of the seasons comes another big change for Yoga with Tracy Von Kaenel.  It isn't always good circumstances that make us change, but change we do.  And in and of itself, change is a good thing.  So...here we go!  

Welcome to Yoga Experience!  A new warm and inviting studio for you to explore the joys of Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Zen Yoga, Yogassage, TaijiFit, and so much more.  A place where a dedicated group of people have created a community of love and support.   A place to grow, and experience life.  Yoga Experience is located at 4619 N. Ravenswood, Suite 100.  It's a groovy Art Deco building.  There is free parking after 5:00 p.m.  Before 5:00 p.m. parking is available one half block south on Ravenswood or there is neighborhood street parking one block north.

Classes begin November 3rd, with a newly expanded schedule.  (See below)  I look forward to welcoming you to the new studio.  I look forward to continuing to offer new and exciting, ever evolving classes for you.  I look forward to deepening the roots of an every growing loving community.  Welcome, welcome....

New Schedule as of November 3rd, 2014

Monday :      Open Level Yoga 6:15 p.m.-7:15 p.m.(New!)
                        Zen Yoga 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Tuesday:       TaijiFit 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.(New!)(taught by Sas Stark)
                        Beginning Yoga 6:00 p.m.-7:15 p.m.
Wednesday: Intermediate Yoga 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Thursday:     TaijiFit 10:00a.m.-11:00 a.m.(New!)(taught by Sas Stark)
                        Open Level Yoga 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.(New!)

Coming Soon...Beginning Aerial Yoga, Intermediate Aerial Yoga, Saturday Yoga Classes and Meditation!

More details:  
Prices are changing too.  Single class rate is $18, 10-pack $150.
Soon the website will have all the info you need to know PLUS the ability to sign up online for classes and pay for them via credit card online .... 
All that and more is on it's way!!  Oh, and don't forget, Grand Opening Open House Sunday November 9th, 1-4 p.m.  Come, see, chat, eat, win a raffle prize!

Thank you for your patience as all this new stuff rolls out. Everything takes time, and patience....what a great yoga lesson eh?

                  
                    

August 15, 2014

What Nobody Tells You About Yoga by Laura Stumpf

When people tell their friends to try yoga, they always say, “You’ll feel so good! I’m always so relaxed after yoga.”
What they don’t tell you is that sometimes, yoga makes you feel like shit.
Some yogis say that emotions are stored in the body, that memories linger on in cells stored deep in our muscles. When we go into a yoga pose and open a part of the body that has been mostly left alone until then, we stretch and release muscles that have gone unnoticed for years. We release tension, and in the process release memories and emotions that were stored in childhood, and have quietly slept deep in our bones ever since.
So one minute you may be lying on your back, enjoying happy baby, and the next minute you are flooded with rage and want to punch a baby in the face. You have no idea what triggered it, there is no reason to be feeling this emotion now, but it’s here and it’s real and it has to be worked through.
I’m not sure if I think emotions are stored in our muscles, but it makes perfect sense to me that yoga brings up emotions. In our practice, we learn to control our breath, to calm our minds, to help our bodies unwind. At first, this is great—we sleep better at night, we’re less stressed, and we feel great having released the tension from our shoulders. We learn to cope with our day-to-day stress, to release the muscles we have tensed up with our daily activities.
On the surface, everything is going great. But we are multidimensional beings, with long emotional histories. We have been sad and scared and lonely in the past, and we have suppressed old scars and defeats and humiliations just to be able to function in our everyday lives.
As we learn to connect to our breath, yoga starts working more efficiently.
Stress, anxiety, tension—wiped out! So it starts working on the backlog, trying to sort through some of that old mess, so you can finally unclutter your innermost being. Things you haven’t thought about in years suddenly rise up in Warrior II, and you can’t stop crying in Savasana because you’re infinitely sad and have no idea why.
It’s easy to feel like a lunatic when one of these emotional tidal waves strikes in the middle of yoga class. Nobody warned me about this phenomenon, and the first time I experienced it I was worrying about what other people thought of the tears running down my face instead of being present and feeling.
In Savasana, I lay on the floor, looking up at my teacher with teary eyes, pleading for an explanation. She just smiled and whispered, “It feels good to let it out.” Once she had given me permission to give in to the experience, my muscles immediately relaxed. I closed my eyes and felt the tears running down my face, and I felt all the sadness emptying out of my body. I felt so deeply relieved and peaceful.
I will always be grateful to that yoga instructor. She gave me a place where it was safe to feel all of the stress that had been accumulating in my life, to surrender, and to let it go.
It’s a cathartic process.
In the moment, it sucks. It sucks to feel sad, to feel angry, to feel pain. But at the same time, it feels really good to finally, fully feel. If you can create a safe space for yourself, in your body—to experience these emotions without judging, just accepting whatever comes up, and riding the wave—you, my friend, are really doing yoga. Your practice is far more advanced than the man who can put his feet behind his head.
The more we release our pasts, the more we are able to be present and enjoy everything that this moment has to offer.
So don’t try to hold back your tears, and don’t tell yourself that you’re being ridiculous the next time pigeon pose makes you want to bawl your eyes out. Remember, if yoga makes you feel like shit, that just means it’s working

March 27, 2014

Living Our Dharmic Path by Renee Schwartz



A year ago I began dharma lessons with Tracy, and the anniversary prompted me to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to share it with my yoga friends….

What would a life look like if yoga philosophy and teachings were actively applied to it?  What would my life look like?  What would happen if I expanded my yoga practice to look seriously at what it offered as a guide to a more mindful way of approaching each day? Was it really possible to view life differently, and did I want to?

These questions and many others like them led me to begin taking dharma lessons with Tracy.  Loosely defined, Dharma is your life’s path, how you live your life responsibly, knowing and respecting your authentic self. Each person’s dharmic path is different.  Dharma lessons have provided me an opportunity to examine my beliefs, fears, and actions/reactions, and to open my mind and heart to other ways of seeing myself and the world.  The lessons encourage me to be mindful and present, to be guided by ahimsa (nonviolence toward all sentient beings), to reduce suffering.

Each session is structured around a question or a specific yogic concept.  Lessons have ranged from exploring what is my authentic self, to reducing the power fear has over my life (keeps me from being my authentic self and much more), to living more fully in the present, to examining the yamas and niyamas such as ahimsa (nonviolence), santosa (contentment), aparigraha (non-hoarding) and how they relate to daily situations. 

We continue with a topic until it seems time to move on to the next topic, and each one acts as a building block for what comes next.  As you might expect, the most difficult thing is to truly absorb and live by what I’ve learned.  There are moments of great clarity when my actions are focused and positive and increase my wellbeing.  And there are times when it seems like I’m back at square one and haven’t moved forward at all.  Each time that happens I look at where I came from and know I have moved forward, and also know that there’s still more work ahead.

Tracy has been incredibly helpful in this process.  She is supportive and gentle, and also deeply and keenly probing.  She blends her knowledge of yoga philosophy with practical applications that encourage me to incorporate the teachings into my daily life. 

Tracy’s truths and my truths are not always the same, and that is fine because it makes me question deeply whatever we’re working on.  Sometimes I realize my ‘truths’ are old truths and not who I am now.  Other times I hold on to my truths (at least for right now!) and Tracy respects that.  Probably the most important aspect of taking dharma lessons with Tracy is that I trust her, and know that wherever the lessons take me, it will be in a safe and supportive environment. 


It has been an intense year of self-study and discovery, some of it joyful and liberating, some of it difficult and painful.  There have been laughter and tears, doubts and breakthroughs, hard work and contentment.  It is a journey I’m thankful I began and am grateful to continue - and I’m eager to share if anyone would like to know more about the experience.

March 17, 2014

Only Love

There are four questions of value in life.  What is sacred?
Of what is Spirit made?  What is worth living for and what is worth dying for?  
The answer to all of them is the same. 
 Only love.
Johnny Depp