First Street Yoga Community News and Blog

what’s in a name?

First Street Yoga, formerly off Second Street, currently operating at 16065 SW Railroad Street, will soon open its doors at 215 N. Main (we hope)!

Our variance application is in process. If we are approved, we can begin construction February 14. We need the variance for your cars; the property does not (and cannot) have as much parking as current zoning requires. I want to take this opportunity to remind you: other things being equal, walking is always better than driving. Driving and then walking a little is better than driving to the door. Driving and walking a lot is better still. We all know this, but it is easy to forget. Convenience seems like such a reasonable goal, we lose track of how frequently it leads us astray. I’ve been assuring the neighbors, as yoga students, we will always strive to focus more on consideration for others than on convenience for self.

After all, there is nothing convenient about a regular yoga practice. Yoga requires tapas, or ardent effort, otherwise, change is liable to be a slide toward dissolution. The wise yoga student welcomes effort because effort makes us strong.  This whole parking thing has made me look at the conveniences of my life with new eyes. How do they serve me? And how do they undermine me?

How do your conveniences serve you?

Keep your fingers crossed (and put in a good word with the neighbors on Main Street). If all goes according to plan, we will build one of the best yoga centers in the northwest. In the meantime, we’re still practicing and learning in old-town Sherwood (16065 SW Railroad). We have space in all the classes and welcome new students!

coordination makes it happen

After twelve years of working out at the gym, a student recently told me, she can finally use an exercise machine she’s been trying to master. It wasn’t the twelve years of working out, she explained laughing, but the single year of yoga that made the difference. How does yoga do that?

As we struggle to learn the yoga exercises (called asana) we begin to understand that our strengths and weaknesses are so connected they are like flip sides of a single coin. Often, lack of strength is not due to simple weakness (twelve years of working out will improve simple weakness). When we can’t do something that we’ve been trying to master for a long time, it’s usually because something else in us is undermining our efforts. One step up and two steps back.

Muscles in the body are often paired. When one contracts, the other should release to allow movement. One muscle may be very strong but if its antagonist muscle is weak by comparison, the joint will not move well. For healthy movement, coordination trumps brute strength.

The same need for balanced effort is apparent in life as well as in our bodies. For example, an ambitious personality may be good at identifying and moving toward goals but if the skills of focus and determination are not balanced by an equally robust ability to relax and enjoy, they may miss the satisfaction that should come from the achievement.

Yoga asanas are designed to balance the physical body. The equal emphasis on effort and relaxation helps us balance mentally and emotionally as well.

In yoga class, every student may be doing the same asana, but we’re all developing different skills as each individual investigates what they need to be better balanced. Then, almost like magic, the hard things get easier and the easy things get more interesting. You may find yourself wondering why it took so long.

summer message from jane

I have learned silence from the talkative,
Tolerance from the intolerant,
And kindness from the unkind;
Yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.
-Kahlil Gibran

Dear Students,

We know from our yoga practice that injury is often the circumstance that spurs the greatest learning. Pain is a compelling teacher, demanding that we spend some energy considering: how did we get here? Where can we go from here? The difficulties our society faces today offer similar opportunities. It is time to consider what we truly value and to focus our energy and resources on those things that give our life meaning.

Health is one of these basic goods, affecting all aspects of our lives from comfort to effectiveness of action. As a form of exercise, yoga benefits us by improving muscle strength and flexibility, respiration and circulation. But the practice of yoga does not merely prevent health problems; it can be a powerful treatment (see our digital resource 40 Ways Yoga Heals). Because of this, yoga is a perfect practice for healthy aging. From improving athletic performance to simply keeping the bladder strong, yoga offers practical tools to support the individual and ease the strains of daily living.

This summer, I’ll be teaching two workshops that use yoga in this directed manner (yoga for women and yoga for weight loss). Like all treatments, the practice of yoga has side effects. The most common include increased energy, decreased depression, improved digestive, respiratory, and immune function.

We cannot avoid the difficulties of life. Sickness, accident and loss are inevitable aspects of the human experience. Instead of letting this wear us down, yoga teaches us to use pain and discomfort as guides to lead us to a better life. That discomfort you’re feeling? Be content; you are in the presence of your teacher.


spring message from jane

Dear Students,

This term, we are trying a new way to charge for classes. While the price of classes remains the same (based on expenses and market standards), you’ll notice that we’ve added a sliding scale range. This will allow committed students to pay based on their personal circumstances. If money is tight, please give yourself a break. If you are comfortable, perhaps you could give more to help support the center.

When we learn in community we benefit from others’ questions and comments and experiences lire. Diverse perspectives broaden our understanding. It seems neither right nor beneficial that money should be a hurdle to joining in this process of learning. Yoga is all about living in the moment and our practice can be an island of peace in a stressful week. But Yoga is especially an investment in our future, helping us age with grace, strength and joy. At First Street Yoga, we’re committed to doing all we can to offer this invaluable tool to anyone who is sincerely interested. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.