The Fire Within – Bringing Tapas into Everyday Life

As we look ahead into the end of this year and onto the next, maybe you are lucky enough to have a few days off from work and spend time with close friends and family.  It might be during a moment of downtime that you are are able to think and reflect back on the year, and take a look at the goals or resolutions you set back in January. It is also a time of self-assessment: Did we honestly accomplish the goals we had set for ourselves back in January, have we fallen short of our intentions or are we in fact, exactly where we need to be? For many of us, the harsh reality of judgement is that sometimes our goals do in fact get lost. With the busy lifestyles that we all live nowadays, the daily checklist is first and foremost and the longer range goals repeatedly become lost in the spiral of chaos. The end of the Fall is a time that I have personally seen myself in this everlasting pattern. It can feel disappointing and discouraging to observe where I am with my goals for the year.

Since I started my yoga practice here at Artemis, many of the teachers have reiterated the sense of something called “Tapas” in my classes. Tapas derives from the Sanskrit language used in yoga practices for thousands of years, and in its most simple terms means,“ heat”, referring to the burning off of impurities. It comes from one of the five “Niyamas” or personal observances of yoga (Light on Life). A deeper and the more  underlying meaning of Tapas is “Going against the grain of habit, of complacency. Tapas is the fervor of striving to be the best you can, which may mean shifting what you do and how you do it.”(Yoga Shanti).

Tapas is often a call to action or even an invitation to move past obstacles, to literally “burn” away obstructions but the […]

By | 2017-11-07T13:20:37+00:00 November 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Elusive Grace of Yoga

Do you remember your first yoga class? Did it take a bit of will and discipline to enroll in the class or to put down your mat?  Perhaps this is why “tapas” is the first element of the Yoga of action (2.1) described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras*.  Loosely translated, tapas is the willpower and discipline we all need to open the body, extend tired muscles, expand our chest, and most importantly to stay with the practice. Yet, if this effort were the only part of one’s yoga, we would burn out quickly! As we stick with tapas we must take on another aspect of yoga, to release and pause – right in the middle of the effort!  As we exert our muscles and quiet our mind, the poses we seek, will only bloom if we can relax into them.  It seems contradictory in many ways,  how can we both be effortful and relaxed? This is the mystery itself, the complexity of yoga.

How can each of us find this “effortless” effort in our lives, and in our practice? In my own practice for example, as I reach for my toes and feel my back muscles “screaming”, the work is to listen to the voice inside my head or of my teacher to stretch my limbs to their full potential, while also recognizing that it is at this point that I must let go. As I learn to observe the sensations and identify the moment where I just need to exhale, I become the pose inside and out. For Yoga itself is not only about the external beauty or aesthetics of the pose, but also it is the subtle internal process of recognizing that now is the moment to accept, relax and yet maintain the effort moving forward. It does not mean that I stop my effort, rather, like a waterfall, effort washes over me and takes my pose to a point beyond the physical picture, and to a beautiful place that exists within me and yet beyond me.  That elusive state might last a second […]

By | 2017-09-08T14:07:03+00:00 September 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Teacher Profile: Meghann Hogan

– What brought you to yoga?

“I started in my first yoga class almost 17 years ago in my small hometown of Tamworth, NH. It was super informal, a small room above the town hall, where we had one instructor, he was very motivating instructor. It was a place that I got excited about yoga.

After that I would practice here and there in college but nothing on a super consistent basis. After college I moved to San Francisco, where there are “yoga studios on every corner” which inspired me to get back to my practice on a regular basis.

It was here that I discovered more Vinyasa style yoga, and began to love its fluidity and creativity –  it felt good for me.”

– What makes you continue your practice?

“I consistently continue my practice because I notice that for myself without it, there is a difference in my overall attitude and view on life. When life takes a turn and I get down, I find that keeping up with my yoga practice helps to keep that at bay. It helps me stay on the positive side of whatever I am facing. I continue it not only for both the meditative and great physical aspect, but also because it really helps me from sliding down and inward. It keeps me running.”

– Why teach yoga?

“I teach because of the unique path I have had in practicing yoga up until this point. My first teachers were amazing Iyengar teachers, working to perfect alignment and structure, which provided me with a great foundation. They were also Ashtanga regimented, and the flow came effortlessly. This foundation from my first teachers who I certainly consider some of my biggest mentors and inspiration had a lot of influence in my decision to teach yoga. I wanted to show others how to deepen their own exploration in their practices as I had learned. From there I decided to get my 200 hour certification, and then my 300 hour certification and […]

By | 2017-07-25T17:10:37+00:00 July 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Newfound energy in my first ropes yoga class

My first experience taking a ropes yoga class (yoga kurunta) class this past Friday at Artemis Yoga in Watertown was anything but predictable. I had never taken a class like this before and the class quickly became one of my new favorites by the end of the day. We took our skills from the mat and turned it up a notch using the multi dimensionality of ropes. Familiar poses such as planks and forward folds were suddenly levitated as we made our way from the ground to the wall with the aid of the ropes. The use of blocks as well combined with the countless variations of ways to tie the rope into knots and slings allowed for unlimited forms of even basic flow poses. As I put emphasis on the use of the ropes as we moved through our practice I felt that it helped me to become even more aware of where my body was centered. My energy and focus was redirected to very specific alignment in poses such as triangle and tree pose that may have easily been overlooked in a regular flow practice, without the support of the rope. A new sense of depth in many of the poses is unlocked as you learn to use the rope with the movement of your body and breathing in this class.

Our instructor Sue Gormley who is a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor (CIYT), was very supportive and welcoming, and her passion and meticulous demonstration made for a very enjoyable experience in something so new to many of us. The members of the class were all excited as we moved through new inversions and styles of poses. I think it is safe to say that every one of us performed at least one variation of a pose that we had no idea was even possible to be done in a yoga class! We all agreed that this class helped us to be more confident in our physical strength and mental trust as we found the courage to try completely new skills.

The Friday ropes yoga class at Artemis […]

By | 2017-07-10T16:04:52+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Cultivating your passion

 

Are you one of the lucky few – one of those who can say they have truly ‘found their passion’? Or better yet – is your passion also your profession?  Maybe even, your passion is also your purpose?

There are lots of words here that can be muddled and are often interchanged. In my experience, passion doesn’t have to be one single thing or any single purpose. In fact, that might even be a little boring! I have a passion for people and find purpose in being a good friend and co-worker. I have a passion for teaching and have turned that into a purposeful practice through my yoga studio.

Coming to this awareness, however, and realizing them was not immediate. For me, awakening my passions and finding my purposes was a path that started when, after many years of a successful career in marketing and sales, I was stopped in my tracks by a health scare.  Shortly thereafter, I experienced the death of a parent and a mentor, a sister.  For me, it took a jolt like this to take stock of where, how and why I was spending my time, talent and resources.  Every one of us will have similar “jolts” in our lives, it is inevitable, but how we react and how we adapt is often the source of inspiration.

In speaking with friends, clients and young professionals now, I offer three tips to help them cultivate their passions: Be Bold, Be Observant, and Be Here Now.

  • Be Bold: Leaving my job in technology product marketing, moving across the country, and opening a yoga studio were huge transitions for me, but I felt real desire to be an independent, business owner. It was time to ‘go for it’ and step outside my comfort zone and yet that applied many of the skills I had cultivated in my career.
  • Be Observant: Our values reflect who we are on a daily basis and come through in everything we do at home and at work. I examined my passions and values, and asked myself questions such as: What do I […]
By | 2017-04-16T21:11:07+00:00 February 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Mindful Parenting – Stop, look and listen

If you are interested in the next Mindful Parenting Series at Artemis Yoga led by parenting coach and educator, Amy Behrens – please download this flyer – MindfulParentingSeriesFeb2017 or click here to register for 4-class series which starts on February 15th.  This popular program sold out last fall.

Mindful parenting is a hot topic right now, reporters are writing about it, we are hosting workshops on it, parent magazines are highlighting it. There is a lot of information from which to glean ideas, and I am sometimes not sure where to start. So I dig down to the basics, down to the core of it all, my kids.

Mindful parenting centers on compassion, kindness and consideration. I tend to be at my best when I am able to slow down the moments I’m with my kids. I focus on living the memory, not just capturing it for Facebook or posterity. Whether we are playing a game, baking cookies or just driving to and fro, being totally present and curious about my kids helps me to connect with them. It’s as simple as the instructions to cross a street: stop, look and listen. When I add in “and breathe,” I find my own stress level melting away.

Those are the happy moments in our days and perhaps the easier ones to dive into. But what about the not-so-happy moments? The times when the stress and stimulation overwhelms us all? Those are the times when tensions run high, emotions are sensitive, and we all tend to break down. As an adult, hopefully by now, I can manage it: measuring my feelings, taking a deep breath and focusing on the positive help me to maintain a sense of composure and calm. This type of self-care helps me to be sure that I am fully there for my family and friends and not simply caught in the vortex of the season.

Source: Mindful Parenting Workshop by Amy Behrens Parent Coaching, Artemis […]

By | 2017-04-16T21:11:07+00:00 January 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Are you ready to turn disappointment into an appointment?

A student asked me last week “please give me a pep talk”.  Don’t we all feel this way sometimes!  I asked: why do you need a pep talk?  She said, “I have been working so hard, I am practicing for some time, and I still do not feel improvement!!”  Her words resonated with me a day later, when I came upon a quote that I had penciled in my notebook back in 2005 when I attended the National Iyengar Conference in Estes Park.  The words of the well-known yogi, BKS Iyengar seemingly jumped off the page, “Live with disappointment one day it will turn into an appointment.”

Sometimes we all have negative thoughts of question and doubt, “why am I doing this yoga practice?  It helped so much and now it does not anymore.”  These negative impulses regarding our practice are here to stay.  We hit them time and time again, when we are sick, injured, or feeling down.

Part of a yoga practice is to know that some of these feelings will always be there and that we need to move through them.  A skillful response to these impulses is not to let go of the practice; on the contrary it is to continue practice.  It is when we are in physical or emotional pain, when things do not go our way that our practice helps; actually it is for these moments that we have practiced.

I certainly felt this way last spring when I was suddenly in an accident that left me with a broken pelvis and foot, unable to even stand for quite some time, let alone practice yoga asana.  But in fact, I did practice, I adapted to the circumstances, to the new me, the broken me. I used my breath to still my mind.  Everyday I stretched what I could, lifting my arms over my head in bed, lying over a bolster to keep my chest open. My main practice was stilling my mind with my breath. I was ready to turn this devastating disappointment into an appointment to reacquaint myself with my breath, […]

By | 2017-04-16T21:11:07+00:00 January 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Rush the holidays? Live in the moment instead.

Doesn’t it feel like time passes so quickly between Thanksgiving and the new year? Bustling days and weekends filled with (sometimes awkward) gatherings, shopping, baking, socializing and eating are so fun – yet also so busy. It is easy to lose sight of the season’s joy and the wonderful opportunity to connect with and do good for others when we are moving so quickly. You might pause to ask, “who is setting this pace? How can I carve out some single moments for self-care so that I may have the energy and mindset to keep up?”

Rushing the holidays, live in the moment insteadRushing through the season at a faster-than-feels-good pace brings stress and also means that we miss the present moment. For me, an intense focus on the destination of the holiday glosses over the daily joy along the way and the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the season. So before you start working on that lengthy seasonal to-do list, why not try some simple ideas that might help you to slow down the pace for yourself and impart a more mindful approach to the days ahead.

Maintain your routine: keep your regular workout schedule. Though sticking to routine can be difficult even when life is going well, prioritizing this during the holiday season will help you gain energy and promote mental health and positive thinking.

Go for a walk: take a 10-minute break from baking, decorating or cleaning indoors. Put on your coat and walk around the block, focusing on nature instead of your phone. That breath of fresh air will recharge you.

Take time to be with a friend or visiting relative: enjoy even small opportunities to connect with the people close to your heart.

Just breathe: one of the best ways to calm your body and mind anytime is to find 5 minutes to sit quietly. While you are in the office, or when you finally find a space in the mall parking lot, give yourself a simple timeout. Count your exhalations and notice the calm overtake your body. Focusing your breath is a well-known way […]

By | 2017-11-23T07:38:07+00:00 December 10th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ready for a calm transition to winter

It doesn’t seem long ago that we were having picnics at the beach and enjoying the slower pace of summer. As the leaves move through their brilliant passage into the New England winter, I am reminded that the fall season, nearly over now, is a time of transition. New schools and routines for our children; new benchmarks and goals in our workplaces – we tend to re-center our lives and hunker down for the coming months.

Our minds may be racing as we adjust our thinking, but our bodies also bear the burden. Moving furniture for college students, taking in patio tables, raking leaves – we may not be prepared for these new motions. Times of transience can also result in changes in workout routines: from running on trails to treadmills, from casual pick-up 

Is your mindset and your body ready for this? Is your mindset and your body ready for this?

games to soccer tournaments. As we move the snow shovels to the front of the garage and replace the screens for the storm windows, it’s time to think about strengthening our muscles and preparing our bodies for the changing season.

People often ask me, “What is the best way to keep myself and my children in good physical shape in order to avoid injuries?” Whether they are speaking about sports injuries on the playing field or strained backs from yard work, my answer is the same: strength, balance, and flexibility are key to maintaining physical and mental health. Incorporating a regular yoga or strength-building practice addresses these areas of concern for lay people and athletes alike.

Around here with our large community of avid runners, rowers and cyclists, I see people of all ages and abilities, not just athletes, interested in adding yoga to their fitness regime. There is a definite trend toward varied workout routines and even those who do incorporate rigorous cardio and strength training tend to find a different, complementary set of benefits from a practice that stretches both body and mind.

By | 2017-11-23T07:40:07+00:00 November 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Yoga Prepares Athletes for Sports and Training

11071626_10206240347386259_5555331848712763035_o Liz enjoys an annual girls trip to Alta!

As a former ski racer who has remained physically active through a range of outdoor sports, I wanted the athlete’s perspective to be a core component of Artemis Yoga’s DNA when we opened our yoga center last December.

Many of Artemis Yoga’s students are working professionals in a range of fields who are either former high school or college athletes. Other students have discovered a passion for triathlons, road racing, trail running, rowing, cycling or swimming in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.

In addition, our students are seeking work-life balance, focus and mindfulness in a professional world that has stretched “working hours” into the evening and weekends. As a former software product marketing professional in Silicon Valley and Boston, I know first-hand the stresses that arise when one seeks to balance a high-performance work environment, family, friends and a commitment to physical fitness. Runfellow Run Club Runfellow Run Club @Artemis

We have developed a curriculum and a specific set of classes for people like you. You work hard in a range of professional roles, value work-life balance and want to gain the benefits of cross-training, focus and mindfulness that can be achieved through the practice of yoga. We make it easy for you to get started by keeping our yoga center and classes welcoming and low-ego for those who are new to yoga as well as for those who are more experienced in their yoga practice.

I am proud of our experienced and friendly yoga instructor team, which includes former college varsity soccer, basketball, track and volleyball athletes as well as current college varsity coaches. Several of our instructors are also active runners, swimmers, cyclists, soccer players and skiers.

Over the past year, Artemis Yoga has had the opportunity to develop its expertise in yoga as a complement to training for younger athletes through our yoga series with Boston College varsity women’s soccer coach Alison Foley, aptly named Soccer on the Mat™.  We have also provided a customized series of off-season yoga classes to […]

By | 2017-04-16T21:11:07+00:00 November 11th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments