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!

Qualifications for Teaching at First Street Yoga

I prepared this for local businesses, etc. to let them know about us, and then realized you students might be interested in your teachers’ qualifications also. New research keeps confirming the effectiveness of yoga, and yoga centers are proliferating. At First Street, we aim to keep the practice whole — mind and spirit as well as body.
I am always interested in talking to potential teachers. If you, or someone you know, would like to join FSY in our efforts to spread the knowledge of classical yoga, please get in touch. – Jane


There is a beginning to knowledge, but there is no end….


Dedication to Study and Practice

Most importantly, all teachers at First Street Yoga are on-going students of alignment based yoga who maintain a regular home practice. Teachers at First Street demonstrate their commitment through continuing advanced studies with senior teachers. First Street teachers may come from different backgrounds, but we share the following minimum qualifications:


  • demonstrated mastery of basic asanas, including stability in sirsasana (head balance) for at least 5 minutes and sarvangasana and halasana (shoulderstand and plow) for at least 10 minutes;
  • familiarity with basic anatomy and physiology with understanding of how to modify the yoga practice to accommodate common problems, such as osteoarthritis or high blood pressure;
  • familiarity with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, including ability to recite the first 3 sutras, as well as familiarity with the eight limbs of yoga and the acts of yoga.


Professional and Peer Support

 Teachers at First Street Yoga meet together regularly to practice and talk. We share information gained independently at workshops and brainstorm ways to teach our students more effectively. We enjoy attending one another’s classes when we’re able. The collegial relationship of our teachers is one of our strongest features. By making the effort to share knowledge and support one another, teachers at First Street have a deep pool of experience to draw from.


Teachers at First Street maintain relationships with their teachers. Despite the proliferation of teacher training programs, apprenticeship is still the best way to learn the art and science of yoga. We’ve all taken extensive teacher training courses, but in addition, each of us maintains an on-going learning relationship with our long-term teachers. This web of professional relations helps us find answers when we’re confused and develop new strategies if we feel stuck.


Unwavering Commitment to the Ideals of Classical Yoga


Our primary goal is to share the knowledge of classical yoga so that our students can pursue their goals with greater physical comfort, mental clarity, and joy. We will work with committed students to make their education affordable, and if we feel a student would be better served by another teacher or practice, we will not hesitate to point them in that direction. Financial profit is always a secondary goal.

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.

books for home practice

You’ll know you’re a real yogini or yogi when you have your own home practice, when asana becomes an increasingly personal language you use to keep your mind and body at their best.

It’s funny how we talk about having a practice, rather than doing. But that is the nature of practice, more like a friend or garden. The yogini establishes a practice in similar ways, cultivating the time and space, attentive to problems or deficiencies. And, like a garden or friendship, in many real ways the practice is out of our immediate control, a sort of gift we can encourage but not coerce. We never know quite what our practice will bring us each day, and that’s where the magic occurs, where our own thoughtful actions can lead us beyond our previous limitations to an unimagined clarity.

To begin a practice, you probably need a book. If you have on-line sources you love, please let me know. Personally, I cannot imagine practicing without some good books for correct poses and sequence ideas. Briefly, here are my favorites. Let me know if you have a resource you’d like to recommend.

Yoga the Iyengar Way by Mira Mehta. Great instruction and pictures. A wide variety of asanas, including some more advanced. Good sequences including remedial. Her second book, How to Use Yoga, is easier to pick up and use, shows more supported poses, but contains fewer asanas and no advanced ones.

Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar. Not the best book for a beginner as instructions are terse. Contains pretty much all the asanas. Excellent sequences, including remedial. The introduction is a wonderful, deep discussion on the role of yoga practice in life.

Yoga: Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar. Good instruction and pictures. Includes supported poses. Great information on how to use yoga for women’s health.

Those are my classics. I also enjoy The Women’s Book of Yoga and Health by Patrica Walden and Linda Sparrowe, The New Yoga Over 50 by Suza Francina, and Yoga: Awakening the Inner Body by Donald Moyer.

A home practice is an adventure! Discover and enjoy and, when we come together again in fall, we can all share what we’ve learned.

turning inward: the final frontier

In sutra II.10, Patanjali tells us that the misunderstandings and sufferings of life will be ended through pratiprasava, a word Mr. Iyengar translates as involution. Prati means in opposition to. The root, prasava, means generation and refers to the blossoming that is characteristic of the natural world (think about how life multiplies to fill all ecological niches, think of the astonishing variety of individuals). Our universe is expanding in many ways.

The spiritual path, then, is one of pruning. The ability to choose to turn away even from good things (more food! more entertainment!) is what makes us human, and our lives begin to take on meaning when we choose restraint in order to pursue some higher ideal.

This Sunday, June 24, Gretchen Newmark will visit to teach a workshop on beginning meditation. We’ll use these three hours to explore methods to turn our energies inward, to involute, or turn away from the fabulous display of the world to begin the process of discovering who we are at our core. If you feel stressed or driven by the circumstances of your life, this workshop is for you. I hope to see you soon.