First Street Yoga Community News and Blog

get rid of that pain in the neck!

Workshop for the Neck and Upper Back Sunday, Oct. 21, 1-4pm.

The neck, shoulders and upper back are key for good posture and play an important role in helping to hold your head up, but they shouldn’t have to do all the work! Having an upright posture can improve your mood, self-esteem and the way you experience the world. And yet these parts of the body take a lot of abuse. Many people every year suffer from shoulder injuries, which can take a long time to heal. Others work hunched over a desk for hours, which makes the shoulders round, collapsing the chest and weakening the upper back muscles. The head protrudes forward causing strain in the neck and shoulders. Another large number of people tend to carry their stress in the neck and shoulders without even realizing it, which makes the saying “the weight of the world is on my shoulders” feel quite literal.

In Alison’s informative workshop for the Neck and Upper Back, you’ll experiment with props to help open up and lengthen these tight and closed areas to find space and relief. You’ll learn safe ways to stretch and support the neck, open the chest and shoulders, and strengthen upper back muscles. These poses will help to create better posture, which will help you in your daily life.

We’ll work with ahimsa (non-violence), svadhyaya (self-study) and practice patience and acceptance. Improving the upper body takes time and discipline. We will work slowly and carefully with this complex and sensitive area, observing within ourselves what works best for our bodies.

This workshop will have a good mix of standing poses, supine and restorative poses. This will not be a strenuous workshop and is open to all levels, even new beginners.

Join Alison on Oct. 21st, Sunday from 1-4 pm. To register call, email or sign up in person and attend first-come-first-served. Hope to see you there!

angel on your shoulder, devil on your shoulder…..

It’s a familiar cartoon image, the poor character stuck in between. Even the viewer is not quite sure who to root for. Unwanted behavior, from simple laziness to the complexities of full-blown addiction, is often stubbornly resistant to change. And that’s exactly what yoga is for – getting the good angel and the bad angel to befriend one another and work together. Union.

Whether you want to end a bad habit or establish a healthy one, the process is the same. In this four week course on behavior change, students will learn a system of yogic practices to help bring their behavior more into line with their values. Each hour and a half class will include practices to address the needs of all the parts of the self: body, mind, and spirit.

Here’s what you can expect:

Body: Students will learn a simple, well-rounded sequence of exercises (asana) to relax the body and bring it into more healthy alignment. We will work with the same sequence in all four classes.

Mind: We will practice age-old techniques to improve focus and concentration. Brief discussions will help the student get a better understanding of what drives behavior and common pit-falls to change. Talk will be centered around the process; we will not be sharing personal details.

Spirit: Each class will include time for breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation (samyama). This is where the angels meet!

These classes are sequential, with some homework and new skills added each week. Students should plan on attending the whole series. Class will be held Thursday evenings, 5:45-7:15, Sept. 7-Oct. 21.

The physical portion of the class will be quite gentle and is appropriate for brand new beginners and people with some physical limitations. If you have any questions, email or call 503-554-5485. To register, send full payment or a $25 deposit to PO Box 832, Newberg, Or 97132.

Yoga for Stress Relief

The advancement of technology has made everything  faster, and much in life is easier than it used to be. However, as technology increases,  more demands are put upon us; communications are made with the expectation of immediate response, and decisions are made as quick as you can hit the send button. This new speed of life, especially around the holidays, puts stress levels at an all time high.

Join Alison on Sunday, Dec. 4th from 1-4 for Yoga for Stress Relief: an active and restorative workshop. Using yoga philosophy to guide us, we will spend the 1st half of the workshop practicing actively to relieve built up tension stored in the body. In the 2nd half, we will practice restoratives to unwind the body and calm the mind.

You will learn new ways to cope with stress and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

To save a spot in the workshop email or call (503) 554- 5485.

beyond om

Come learn to read and chant in Sanskrit! Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17, Kathryn Payne, a teacher with the American Sanskrit Institute, will teach us to recognize and pronounce the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet. You’ll be able to read the original yoga sutras and pronounce the ancient chants with confidence.

Sanskrit, meaning refined speech, is the ritual language of yoga (and Buddhism and Hinduism). I’ve come to know it through my studies of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, and I appreciate the exotic vocabulary. Ahimsa, for example, has come to mean something more than non-violence. For me, it is a non-ordinary word which represents a non-ordinary ideal of harmlessness. The deep concepts of Patanjali’s sutras are served by a special vocabulary that can gain meaning as practice and understanding deepens.

Sound is also a healing tool. I’m not aware of studies on the healing benefits of sound, but there is no question that when we chant every cell in our body vibrates in tune with that sound. The tradition of yoga uses the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet as seed sounds to open and balance the chakras, or energy centers, of the body. On a more superficial level, chanting exercises the lungs and vocal chords. Sanskrit chants have long been used as tools for meditation and devotion.

To learn more, see the workshop page. If you’re interested, please sign up right away! We need to have enough people to make this worth the trip for Kathryn. I anticipate students from out of the area, so it is also a wonderful opportunity to meet other yogis and make some new friends. I hope you’ll join me.


A yoga tour of yourself — forward bends

Join us for forward bends this Sunday, March 6 1-4!

This workshop will emphasize physical engagement. Minimal anatomy instruction and  explanation will help to keep you focused on you as we use these important postures to take a journey of the self.

Our itinerary will begin with the big outer muscles like the hamstrings and spinal muscles. As you gently penetrate the resistance of the outer body (anamaya kosa), you will begin to discover the energetic body (pranamaya kosa). Long holds and gentle breath work in the asanas will help calm and organize the nervous system and begin to bring clarity to the mental body (manomaya kosa). If you’ve never done 3 hours of forward bends before, you might find yourself in brand new territory!

This workshop is appropriate for students who have been practicing alignment based yoga for at least six months. For more information, see the workshop page.