Kindness + Trust

The studio’s April challenge focus this week is to be kind to yourself. I decided to embrace the theme and commit to being less self-critical. I chose to notice when I am self-critical, putting forth efforts to pause, and then either re-do or simply be aware of the behavior (whichever felt more accessible at the moment).  

Taking a step back from self-criticism felt clumsy. I wanted to share my observations with you in the event you can relate and maybe we can support each other to shift. Here were a few observations in my experiment:

I watched myself attempt to completely let go then react with over-control. For example, I am applying for jobs. I never feel like I am doing enough. I hungrily apply every day.  I check the same website(s) obsessively, sometimes at 3 a.m.. I feel completely consumed by the fear that something won’t land and I waste 30 mins, 1 hour, 2 hours skimming websites. In this exercise, I paused and focused on trusting it will work out. Quickly after I returned to hunting. But the pause allowed me to notice my energy would likely be better spent focused on finishing my coursework, with an allotted amount of time dedicated to applying for jobs. Also, I’ve applied to jobs recently of which I am qualified and excited about, yet I don’t allow time for it to percolate.

My indecision often leads to over-giving or unclear boundaries. I met friends for coffee Thursday morning. I walked past a man that asked for money and/or coffee. I told him I was going to be an hour inside, he decided that was too long. When I got inside I got self-critical for not simply saying yes on the spot, so I bought him a coffee. When I took it outside, he was gone. Then I felt silly for buying the coffee.

I noticed a lack of trust in others: my partner, friends in my volunteer group, co-workers. I watched myself take on more tasks rather than discard unnecessary ones, ask for help or lose control. Then grow resentful at what I “sacrifice” to keep up. It was an opportunity to remind myself to ease up, the extra mile is sometimes just extra. Often, letting others do for themselves (vs. interjecting) is usually the wiser decision for all. Being kind to myself means allowing people to help and being kind to others means trusting they will do a good job. 

In my effort to re-do the above, I decided to start listening to positive affirmations on spotify. It’s been helpful so far!

 For balance, here are other (positive) observations:

 I am inherently kind and sometimes child-like. 

I noticed that I am loved.

I have a resume and personality I am proud to market as I apply for jobs.

I allow myself to be silly in front of others.

I can leave the house without changing my yoga clothes 10 times.

Running has gotten easier and I accept my pace. 

I won’t apply for a job that feels like a sacrifice, because I have done that and was miserable. I have grown. 

My partner and I are committed to each other. He is patient and loving.

My family is generous.

I am learning to accept gifts in new ways.

 This lesson was eye opening that ways to be kinder to myself are available in every-day small decisions. While massages & pedicures & nights out are a treat, I want to be kinder to myself on the inside, too. Can you relate?

xo

Courtney  

 

Why I Let Anxiety Stick Around

Growing up, I was a competitor. I liked to win { let’s be honest, I still do}. I have several memories of the nerves I held prior to competitive events. While my memory bank is full of moments of tremendous nervousness, a few stand out.

Prior to a track meet at Lakewood High School, I played it really cool. I was dropping f-bombs and talking to teammates. But actually, every 5-10 minutes I was running the bleachers to get to the top of the stadium where the bathroom was several times prior to the race because my nerves made my stomach tie itself into several ball-sized knots and nothing but sitting on the toilet helped. Things I remember saying to myself, “You better win this thing. You have to. You can’t let her beat you. If you do, you’ll let your team down. You’ll show everyone that you actually aren’t that good.” After the race, I treated myself to endless stadium hot dogs and prolonged the cycle of shitting.

It didn’t need to be a formal competition though. I can remember a summer evening when my Uncles and cousins and I went to our summer cottage baseball diamond. I was so sick to my stomach. I remember thinking that my Uncle needed to know what an athlete I was. And I’d do anything to show him. Even if it meant taking a line drive to the knee and limping for days to follow.

Well fast forward to 32 years of life, and it’s still there. The never- ending push to excel at anything I do is readily vocal and quite demanding. It is relentless in the pursuit of being the best, the first, and it is rarely appeased. The difference in those span of years is that I know it’s there.

So I was talking with my therapist, and she asked a riveting question. “What about anxiety works in your favor?”

The nerdy nerve-centric party in my head was like, “Finally we’re getting some credit!”

So here’s what I came up with.

Anxiety has been a hate, love, hate relationship. I start with hate because I don’t like being asked if I’m taking laxatives before a major event. It has generated a dis-ease in my belly, a clump in my throat, and a very chatty brain that is unafraid to tell me how much more I need to work on it and all of the things I haven’t thought of, and all of the ways I’m just not there yet.

But there’s a love there, too. Anxiety has fueled me to do more. It has been a fear driving semi truck that demanded attention. Sure, it could have been a little more subtle and perhaps, kinder, but guess what? In my head, it worked. And I have achieved some pretty cool things amidst the self-pressure and regular negative self-talk.

Fear drove me to never see anything as good enough which, in my anxiety filled brain, in a twisting addictive way, worked and I wasn’t ready to part with it.

I’ll say I’m not forever changed, yet. Frankly,I still see its value. But, I also see its detriment. It has taken a toll on my insides. It has taken a toll on my self-concept. It has devalued me.

I have hunch (and by hunch I mean a Ph.D. sports psychology specialist told me) that believing I can do it and using that as a fuel instead of fear, is more effective. The difference isn’t the result, she says, it’s the path to get there is less grueling, less mean, and more loving.

In my professional life, as a business owner and a mental health therapist, I do strive to do more. and better. and gather additional information. and read all of the things. and prepare to the -nth degree. And often, it has worked. But it has been more for the fear of failing and the ways I would see myself if I didn’t do those things.

So, the practice for me is to continue to hunt for answers and resources, but without the added layer of being value-less if I don’t and without the pressure to get to the “next thing.”. Instead, I’ll give a nod to that loud semi passing through, thank it for trying so hard to protect me and help me grow, and remind it { and remind me} that I know I can. That the young Halle who wants so badly to be good enough, already is. I’ll straighten my posture, lift my hearts center, and take a deep breath.

I’m good as I am. I can. I am. I have.

Yoga Retreats!

"We retreat in order to advance." - Steve Gold, musician


I.LOVE.RETREATS!  I've been on 10 yoga retreats in the past 10 years.  They have had different lengths, locations, price points, and schedules.  Overall, one thing has been the same.  I have never regretted going.  When I make time for myself to disconnect, whether it's in Ohio for a few hours or Asia for 3 weeks, I come back re-charged or re-filled in some way.  I am a better human for myself & others when I make that time.  


Why should you consider going on a retreat?  If you feel burned out, stressed, tired, over-scheduled, then it is the PERFECT time to sign up for a retreat!  If you feel unmotivated, like your creativity is blocked or are considering a job change, then it is the PERFECT time to sign up for a retreat!  If you feel isolated or lonely as a new mom or are newly retired, then it's the PERFECT time to sign up for a retreat!


If you are looking to RETREAT, here are a few to consider in no particular order that I recommend and all spots that I have been:


THAILAND:  Thailand knocked my socks off!  It was a beautiful country with amazing food, people, culture, & sights!  This one is being led by my cousin, Annie Fox Langdale and she is a VERY special yoga teacher, check it out!   https://www.yogashalasac.com/sisterhood-of-the-spirit-retreat-chiang-mai-thailand/


OHIO:  My mom & I are hosting a one day retreat in Vermilion, Ohio in May!  If you want to dip your toe into the pool of retreats, this would be a great one to try! Take a day for yourself!  Sign up here: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/ws?studioid=151068&stype=-8&sView=day&sLoc=0&date=05/19/19


KRIPALU: I went to Kripalu last December.   I tend to like a lot of alone time so becoming a mom has been a big adjustment for me!  My husband encouraged me to take some time alone, so I went to Kripalu for their R & R retreat.  The grounds are beautiful, the yoga is top notch & the food was great!  Check our their website here:

https://kripalu.org/  


ANAMAYA Resort: For my 30th birthday, I zip lined, yoga'd, napped, swam, and ate yummy vegetarian food at this awesome spot.  The teacher I went to was  a guest teacher but I imagine any week you picked would be great!  https://www.anamayaresort.com/

Next week, I am going on a trip with Melissa Major, I’ll be able to share more on that once I return but for now, I’m gearing up to disconnect! Side note, looks like she has an awesome trip to Belgium planned, get the info on that by signing up here: https://www.balanceandbrews.com/bb-in-belgium-2019/

What other retreats are going on that I should know about? Check my instagram @laurenyong next week for pictures of my trip to Cartegena, Columbia with Melissa and her group!

If you want more info on any of the places I mentioned above, message me on IG or FB!

Love, Lauren



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Belonging.

When I was in 8th grade, now 20 years ago, I was the worst version of myself. My parents were getting divorced and the hurt I was feeling I scattered out into my little sphere of influence of teenage girls. The details aren’t necessary but I know that I made people feel not good enough, insecure, and left out. I did it to build myself up because I felt like my little home world was falling apart. Of course, I was feeling insecure and left out. I was trying to control one part of my life because my identity of my “perfect” family unit and my “perfect” being-ness (oh to be 14) was shaken. I feel shame every time I think back on this time of my life. I can assure you the fall from grace was a teacher.

Today, of course, I can recognize my family wasn’t perfect and that no one is perfect. We’ve been lucky to have two therapists and five opinionated people in our family unit that are unafraid to say what the mean. Our family has a new shape and solid foundation of love, trust, and communication. But it wasn’t always the case. After my parents divorce there were years I didn’t really talk to my parents about anything. My sisters and I are not far apart in age, but 11, 14, and 16 can seem like decades apart and this time period impacted us each differently. I felt so catapulted from my version of normality that I didn’t know how to operate in this new world. I went through some very interesting phases (like tangerine hair and really bad outfits). In hindsight, I was eagerly trying to construct some environment where I belonged again. This went on subconsciously for a long time. Some people are able to move on from things quickly or turn a corner and let go of hurt. My pattern has been to carry it around like football gear for an extended and unnecessary amount of time. It’s something I am working to shift. Yoga helps.

Last weekend I was talking to a friend about 8th grade and how challenging it must be now. Social media has taken “belonging” to a whole new level. I know even my 8th grade self peeks her head up every now and again as I scroll through Instagram or facebook. Whether its events I’m not invited to or humans or businesses that seem like they have it all together, a part of me has doubt that I’m not enough or that I need to have approval or control to feel safe in a group. Ironically, one current trend is to celebrate imperfection and individuality. But as someone that has felt like an outsider, even my “celebrated” awkwardness, anxiety, and quirkiness can feel like they’re simply not the right type of imperfect to belong.

I have gotten to a point where most of the time I can watch my reaction and sit with it. (It’s uncomfortable.) In the quiet moments that follow, I remind myself to be humble, to learn from people wiser than me, to stay on my own path. I ask for help or an ear from a friend. I am grateful for the people that walk the walk, reminders of strength and community beyond the smoke screen of social media. I let myself be loved, by family, Andrew, friends, cats, and community. Love, however it shows up, reminds me I belong.

-Courtney

A Yoga Love Story: my long term relationship with pigeon pose by Deirdre

A yoga love story: my long term relationship with pigeon


Like many complicated and passionate couples, pigeon and I didn't care for each other when we first met. In fact, I hated pigeon.  It was my least favorite pose and I couldn't understand why anyone would ever request pigeon!  I was in agony doing pigeon pose: sweating, gripping, and irritated by all the people who looked like they were enjoying themselves.


I'll admit it took awhile but eventually I warmed up to pigeon. Things evolved and it became less agonizing. And after awhile I got kind of "good" at it.  Then, one thing led to another and I fell in love.  We were inseparable.   I practiced pigeon often, holding a deep pose indefinitely. I loved how grounded it made me feel and how open my hips felt. Isn't young love so sweet?  We were blissfully together for a few years before things started to unravel.   


On a summer night about 6 years ago,  I felt pain in the back of my left hip.  It wouldn't go away and something just didn't feel right.  It ached at night and the pain would wake me up, especially when I slept on my side.  Getting in and out of the car was painful.  Around the same time, there was also something strange going on in my triangle and half moon poses.  When I went into these poses there was significant movement in the back of my pelvis and an audible "click, click, click".  I saw a chiropractor who told me I had sacroiliac (SI) joint instability.  He could put my SI joint back in place during treatments but as soon as I left the office and slid into my car it would shift back out of position.  And that movement and clicking I heard and felt in triangle and half moon - well, that was my sacrum and left ilium banging around about as they shifted out of place.  

Pigeon had not only stretched the the tight muscles in my hips, it also stretched the ligaments that stabilized my pelvis.  Muscles will return to their resting length after stretching, but ligaments don't snap back.  I didn't want to believe it.  I didn't want to admit that pigeon could be contributing to my pain.  I felt betrayed.  How could something that felt so good have a negative consequence?! Our tearful breakup was the sad realization that I could no longer fall into poses that I loved, freely and with abandon.


In the lonely days that followed, I wondered more about what had changed in my pelvis and low back.  Curiosity overshadowed my negative feelings and triggered an interest in learning more about low back pain, SI joint instability, and what I could do to fix it. I've been studying this area for the past 5 years and I have a much more honest and compassionate relationship with my body and my yoga practice as a result.  The upside of all of this is that sometimes an injury can help you advance your practice in ways you had not imagined.


Hypermobility occurs when the ligaments in joints are too loose.  Affected joints include elbows, knees, shoulders, cervical spine, hips, and SI joints.  In some us, coming into our fullest expressions of certain yoga poses requires our joints to move beyond healthy, functional ranges of motion.  Exploiting this range of motion over and over again can lead to some serious problems. Hypermobile people often feel the NEED to stretch, but shouldn't do it mindlessly.  The body responds to the laxity in the ligaments around certain joints by tightening large muscle groups around the joint.  Thus, the muscles feel tight and we want to stretch them.  But more deep stretching can just irritate the problem.


Thankfully, most people can safely practice pigeon and other deep poses without over-stretching ligaments, but in the yoga community we do have a significant number of hyper-mobile people.  So my message is this, listen to your what your body is telling you.  When something changes, don't pretend you don't hear it.  Yoga is not all stretching.  We need to balance flexibility with strength and for each us that scale is different.  Pigeon and I have made up although we realize we're not a perfect fit.  Like old flames, we have fond memories and a soft spot for one another.  In order to remain friends we compromise and make accommodations for our relationship.  I practice pigeon occasionally, using props, muscular engagement, and a slow pace of coming in and out of the pose to listen for signals from my body.  Usually, I can resist the urge to push in ways that create conflict.  And when I don't, pigeon sends me flowers and a get well card.  



Deirdre is a 500 RYT with an interest in therapeutic yoga.  She's leading the workshop  "Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga for Low Back Pain" on March 23rd at 3Sisters. If you are interested, check our workshops page here:

https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/ws?studioid=151068&stype=-8&sView=day&sLoc=0&date=03/23/19

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Feels like Home Series

We receive the comment often, “This studio feels like home.” or “This studio is my second home.”

Well, we hope so.

We designed our studio with that intention. Our goal was to create a safe and welcoming place where everyone could be themselves. And here’s how.

Our place is a masterpiece of love. From the artwork that hangs on the wall, to the benches that invite you to relax and unwind, many of our studio’s “feels like home” features are reflections of people in our “family” that have contributed to making this special place.

So, kick back and take a look at all of the ways in which our studio reflects our goal, to feel like home.

And thanks for being part of our family. We are so glad you’re here.

A gradual ripening: the theory of negative capability.

Uncertainty, for me, is nestled sweet & cozy right in my discomfort zone. I can juggle a full schedule and tackling a next step, but the not knowing what’s next piece is right up there with getting my wisdom teeth out. I avoided wisdom teeth surgery for 10 years and had to call the EMS night 1 post-surgery, so this might give you some insight into my appreciation for uncertainty. Lately I’ve found myself in a hurriedness to figure out what’s next. My last semester of grad school just started. Here I am anxiously googling jobs to land post-grad and trying to plan, plan, plan for four months away. In a few areas of my life, I’m being hit over the head with uncertainty and a lack of control around what’s next and it is wildly uncomfortable. I find myself irritable, over-cleaning my house to assemble some sense of control, and being short with people I love when they’re not operating at the same extreme level of order that I am. I know myself well enough to watch that I am trying to control but not yet equipped to stop it before it builds or implement an alternative action.

Last week I “stumbled” (wink at life) upon the perfect message. The book, The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope, was recommended by a friend, Dave. It just so happens my place in this book this week is a chapter dedicated to John Keats, an English poet. (You may remember his quote “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I remember this from Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews version), not because I am well-versed in English poetry.) Keats is also known for his theory of negative capability. The theory describes being capable of being inuncertainty, sitting in doubt, without any irritable reaching for reason or fact. It is total surrender to letting life unfold and finding inspiration in both light and dark of what transpires. The author goes on to say Keats “knew the importance of leisure…as he began to learn to wait patiently for a gradual ripening.”

Since reading this, I’ve repeated it to myself and about 4 others. It is such a great reminder and simple message that the lack of a formal solid plan isn’t necessarily a negative step back. Within this environment of in-between often exists joyful spontaneity, a good book, a new recipe, catching up with a good friend, time for strength and sleep. Even in reading in my downtime sitting at the studio on a Saturday morning the perfect message was just a page away, reminding me uncertainty isn’t a weakness. It’s not a time to scramble and put together pieces that don’t fit. It is a time to trust. I am choosing to move uncertainty out of its discomfort zip code. After all, it’s possible uncertainty is life working in its wonderful way, waiting until I am perfectly ripe for what’s next. 

xo- courtney

 

 

essential oils 101: guest post by Amy Basha Conetsco

essential oils 101: guest post by Amy Basha Conetsco

I have experienced many other life-changing impacts of using essential oils including: managing my PCOS + endometriosis symptoms with some of our hormone regulating oils {clary calm, clary sage, + geranium to name a few}, removing toxins + chemicals from our household to reduce the toxic load on both my + my husband’s bodies by replacing the brand name/store bought products we previously used with simple, homemade solutions {which is important for fertility + our reproductive organs}, and boosting my overall well-being and health in general with some proactive, and plant-based, approaches {one simple example being lemon oil in my water every morning to cleanse + detox my body}.

Polarity

Life is so strong.  said the fighting 92 year old who had “ days to live.” years have gone by. hes still driving.

Life is so fragile. said the disappointment of my own when he still hasn’t found an outfit for our wedding.


Life is simple. said the cup of coffee and christmas lights that change my mood.

Life is so complex. said  the stories that surface after years of holding it all in.

Life is so hard. said the death of an 8 year old days before christmas. The family mourns.

Life is so easy. said the pina colada with its tiny umbrella perched on an angle.

Life is abundant. said the dozens of socks of which I choose to place on my feet to keep warm.

Life is meek. said the dent in the cars hood and the gas light.

Life is redundant. said the cycle of laundry upstairs.

Life is full of surprises. said the package on the stoop from a giving aunt.

Life is death. said my wedding ceremony writing acquaintance. Shifting my perspective of partnership.

Life is birth. said my facebook’s newsfeed.

I don’t have any answers. I have all the answers. I am at a loss and yet, I am almost certain. I can’t seem to find peace in it, and a deep breath or two settles it again.

I remain.



With all the love.
Halle

Beginner's Yoga: What is it like to be brand new?

Beginners & people who practice yoga regularly often say that our studio is the friendliest one in town. We are grateful that our staff & students help create an environment that allows you to feel as comfortable as possible being brand new!

Trying something new is often not easy. You get curious, you talk yourself into finally going, and then you feel a little anxious, that is all completely normal. Remember that every single person on our staff and who visits, at one time was a beginner. We all start somewhere!

So you decided you are going to attend, now what?! First off, we are SO EXCITED for you to begin!

Here are a few things to help you be best prepared!

  1. We have yoga mats available to loan at no extra cost

  2. Many people like to bring a water bottle with them to stay hydrated.

  3. Dress comfortably in clothes that you can move in, most women wear some type of yoga pant or athletic pant or short and a tank top or t shirt. Men usually wear shorts & a t shirt.

  4. Let the front desk know when you arrive so that they can check you in.

  5. Feel free to introduce yourself to the teacher, they love meeting students!

Lastly, relax & move! Enjoy being brand new! How often in life do we get to be complete beginners at something with no judgement? Notice how it feels to move your body in a new way. Notice your breath! Be present through out your experience.

Afterwards, please feel free to share with us anything that you experienced. We are here to support you on your journey to holistic living!

Namaste, 3 SISTERS

Student, Kelli, demonstrates Tree Pose

Difficult Roads often Lead to Beautiful Destinations.

I’m pretty nervous to share this in writing in a place where strangers can read it. I love that the studio has given us a platform to share experiences, parts or our lives, & on topics we find important. Thanks for reading.

I struggle with anxiety still. I had (past tense) postpartum anxiety & depression. These events are not my whole story, but they are a part of my story & helped shape me.

Here is a journal entry of mine from less than a year ago:

These feelings are heavy, dark, & persistent. They abuse me when I notice them. They strain me. They stop me in my tracks & make me wish I had no tracks. I feel ashamed & small to feel this way.

Things have shifted for me since last year & I am grateful. I have compassion for anyone who feels this way.

Here are some resources or tools that I have used during anxious times:

  1. Text 741741 and a Crisis Counselor will text you back! It’s free & helpful!

  2. The acronym RIDE that my sister, Halle told me about has been helping me with anxiety, here’s what it means:

R - is for re-name it! Recognize that’s anxiety & that’s not me!

I - I’m in charge! I’m in charge of my life not anxiety!

D- Do the opposite. So, for me, anxiety makes me overly active. Being still & doing nothing, although difficult to convince my ego to do, is the perfect antidote! If I can fall asleep, naps help a lot.

E- Ease, get back to that place of ease and notice when you’re there!

3. Ask someone in your life for support. I’m happy to be your person, text me 440.668.3185.

4. Go to Yoga

5. Write it out, all the feelings even the crazy ones.

6. Eat well.

7. Sleep!

8. Get out in Nature, take a deep breath, connect to Mother Earth.

The purpose of this blog is to share that if you are struggling, you are not alone. You matter. The world needs your magic.

“Today you are You, that is truer than True. There is no one alive who is Youer than You” -Dr Seuss

Blog by Lauren

What makes 3 SISTERS different? A note from the Colleen Alber, the teacher who has been on our schedule the longest!


I agree that the 3Sisters community, teachers, students and the experience we provide are our biggest differentiators. Our people and our culture.

·         Lauren, Courtney, Halle, John & Beth – no better ownership in the business.

·         BEST (and variety of) teachers…Deirdre, ColleenK & Lisa all with 500 hour RYT – with several full-time yoga teachers, a teacher of yoga teachers and more.

·         Desk yogi staff can’t be beat… their smiles, love of yoga, all around patience, kindness and love of our students and community. The role play is so much more than just ‘checking people in’. Anita leading the charge!!!

·         We take time to learn the names of our students and something about them. (and we have AMAZING students!)

·         Teachers and students that CARE for and CHEER (I love this word) for each other with little to no competition where everyone feels comfortable. And we don’t just support for each other in yoga, we support each other in life.

·         We love smiling and and moving and music and laughter.

·         We are happy and kind and loving and supportive people…who are just working on being our best selves and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.

Sometimes my strength scares me

The irony is I’m sitting on the floor of a yoga studio in which I own, and I haven’t been able to comfortably take a yoga class in almost a year.

It’s been four years since I was asked to leave a yoga teacher training. Prior to this, yoga was a  practice that, like for many of you, accepted me as I was, held me in my worst, pushed me to my best, and was a ground I could rely on.

A ground that would, in time, falter, collapse, and leave me with more questions.

It reminds me of a college professor’s quote that haunted me, “Believe in something, and question everything.”

When the ground of yoga shook under my feet, I had to question it. I couldn’t turn a blind eye. The yoga community, I learned, was not without fault lines.

Since this experience I have ridden the waves of feelings. I worked through abandonment. I have been avoided at the store by peers who sat shoulder to shoulder with me in the program.

Sometimes it made me angry. I wrote letters I never sent, to people who had no idea the deep despair and anger my feet rested on. I took up running to release anger in a way that felt healthy. I wept. And then anger. And the cycle, the tide continued. The waves kept coming, and I kept riding.  I received an apology a few years later, but the ground, it had already been shook.

I have dipped my toe back in several times, hoping it would take me back to the sweetness I found when I unrolled my mat. I would find that feeling for a few minutes, or a class, and then, like a sudden summer’s quiet after a storm, it would disappear.

In writing, part of my intention is a call for help. While I know, I am not alone and my support system has been crucial, I don’t think I’ve been explicit. The very thing that brought me to me, the practice of yoga,  it was poisoned and spit back out into a storm for me to sort through.

I need the community of 3 S I S T E R S, the community of Cleveland’s yoga world, the global connecting energetic field of yoga and all of its people to know, I was hurt by the community that built me up. And my strength of leaning into and investing in the very community that exposed me to some of the toughest lessons in my life, is still my teacher. And sometimes my strength is actually a pile of “I don’t want to get hurt again shit.”. Sometimes it’s really not strength, but fear. So, I have resisted it like a bat out of hell, and I can’t promise that I won’t feel a little cold in a moment, or phony in another, I still need you. Please invite me to your favorite class. Or instructor. Or let’s practice in a quiet place outdoors and just breathe. But, I need you to help me remember what it felt like to unroll my mat and meet myself without judgement. I think I am ready.

Halle


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Why I Challenge

Truly, my relationship with yoga started as a challenge.  With a dad who was a triathlete and had a masters degree in exercise physiology, our household had a very traditional perspective on fitness growing up. Running, cycling, and weight training were a way of life, and through my late 20’s I relied on running to stay in shape.  A combination of years of running, cheerleading and 3 pregnancies made running painful on my knees and hips over time, and my own attention to my health and wellness decreased as the demands of family and work increased. In November of 2016 I found myself in a place in my life where I needed to make a conscious decision to step out of my own definition of who I had become on the heels of a couple of years that had unwillingly challenged my sense of personal equilibrium. Running had always provided me not only a great workout, but also was a place to clear my head and release stress.  Without it, I craved another outlet that would allow me to to find my center, a place where my brain would slow down, my energy could be focused, and my body could be challenged. 

When I stepped into 3 Sisters for the first time in January of 2017 it was my first ever yoga practice. That was my first yoga challenge. I was nervous that I would feel out of place because of the years of inattention to my own fitness, and questioned whether or not something that, in my mind, equated to an hour of stretching could really make any significant impact towards my goals.  I stumbled through that first hour, spending much of the time discretely looking to my left and right to figure out what each of the poses was supposed to look like, but left feeling lighter.  I realized that, for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had spent a whole hour thinking about nothing other than what I was doing in that moment.  I was not worrying about forms that needed filled out for school, meetings I had scheduled for the upcoming week, or the grocery list.  My muscles were tired, but in a way that felt more like relief than over-exertion. 

Two classes a week soon moved to three, and that April I participated in my first challenge month at the studio.  It was during that month, working to meet and surpass 15 classes, where I felt the internal switch from making the decision to practice to my body needing to practice.  If work or kids’ activities interfered with my yoga schedule for more than a couple days I could feel my need to get back to my mat.  I would miss the physical and mental experiences equally, and felt like a piece of me that I had been missing for several years was starting to return.  Not only did I notice a different physical strength than I had found before, but I also appreciated that there was a place that I could come where my identity was based solely on me, as opposed to being defined by being someone’s mother, or wife, or daughter, or co-worker.  

While summer approached and I considered how different days would look without school being in session for the kids, I begrudgingly decided that if I wanted to continue making it to the studio 4 to 5 times a week I would need to try a hot class.  The early morning summer offerings were too good to pass up when it came to our family schedule.  I knew that if I wanted to stay on track that I had to get past my own preconception that hot yoga classes were only meant for people who could double as Lululemon models. The heat that first night was oppressive.  I could not understand why it felt like time was standing still and put all of my effort into not slipping in the puddles that were quickly accumulating on my mat, but before long the sweat associated with those hot classes became addictive.  Challenge met.  

As the big sheets of paper go up on the wall to track everyone’s progress, it has been an opportunity to consider how the idea of challenge has been at the core of my journey with yoga over the past couple years, as well as how it has evolved.  Most recently I find myself struggling to give my permission to do what Courtney so often reminds us of at the beginning of class, which is to take what we need and that this practice is our own.  I want to be less critical of myself when I need a little extra rest in the middle of my 7th class in 8 days.  I want to be ok with the fact that my balance before noon looks a lot different than my balance later in the day.  I want to let go of resistance to poses I have found challenging in the past and not be afraid to keep trying.  After all, there is no place in my life that is safer to fall than right there on my mat. 

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Hot? Or Not?

Below you will find Lauren, Courtney + Halle’s experience with Hot Yoga. Each has a different lens and reason for being drawn to hot or perhaps not!

COURTNEY

I was introduced to hot yoga in Cincinnati. It was a time in my life that I was feeling things really intensely. My lifestyle was that way too, work hard/play hard. .When a coworker brought me to a hot yoga class, I was hooked.  I went everyday for 30 days to a 75 minute class taught in a 107 degree room.  After that intense beginning, I remained wholly committed.  Somedays I practiced twice in a day.  All of the classes were hot, mostly flow classes (90% were vinyasa-based). I saw myself as strong and powerful and fit (!?!?).  All of these feelings had been gone for nearly 10 years, since I quit gymnastics/dance. As my teaching and practice has evolved, so has my relationship with the hot room and yoga.  I still primarily attend hot classes. I am not one to sweat easily, so warm yoga can feel like unheated to me, and unheated can feel cold.  But I am a MUCH more thoughtful and humble practitioner.  Since starting yoga, I’ve worked through shoulder issues (still) and IT band issues. These bodies are fascinating. I can’t remember a time that I couldn’t touch my toes or do the splits.  But my upper body is very constricted.  A surgery I had in my late teens resulted in very tight chest muscles and muscles along the sides of my ribs (so forearm variations are both challenging and beneficial to me). My right shoulder isn’t happy with me, due to gymnastics and now repetitive motion from yoga. So the heat is more beneficial to me in some places than others. I go to a hot class because it is a place my mind quiets, it takes that amount of intensity to pause outside thoughts. And truly, thats where the work is, in quieting the mind. When I first started teaching, I thought it was important to have perfect alignment, to get to handstand, to push myself as hard as possible.  As I’ve practiced more (on & off the mat), I’ve discovered that push can be ego and not beneficial.

So if I really examine what motivates me into a hot room, its to limit distractions and encourage focus on days my energy is intense.  My original draw of reconnecting with myself, working through difficult times, and building confidence is no longer is limited to a hot room, sometimes its in a yin class, or a good book, or graduate school, or a relationship. I do feel grateful that wherever the work is, that I have yoga as a support system & a community to work through it.

HALLE

 Being a Division I athlete, pushing my body to limits felt like home. I began my yoga practice shortly after college in 2009. I had completed my senior year season as a soccer player in southern Ohio and arrived home. While my first yoga class was an all-levels class, I regularly attended hot classes as a "beginner" ( first 6 months of practice). I liked the intensity, loudness, the challenge, I liked sweating A LOT. 

And then I got back into running ( I needed a break from it after years of being told I had to!) And during my long distance training, I found other styles of yoga to suit my needs. And so this cycle goes and continues to go on and on. 

Some seasons encourage me to sweat it out in a hot room and peak over my physical edge.  Other times I prefer a gentle nudge and a sweet surrender.  

I would encourage you to go inward and ask what you need. Ask often. We are forever adjusting. 

LAUREN

Hot Yoga has been kind of a hot topic, pun intended, in my life since 2008.  When I first fell in love with yoga, I fell in love with hot yoga.  When I lived in Rocky River, I used to head to class 3-4 times per week.  I liked the sweatier and more crowded classes best!  I thrived on the vibe.  At this time, I held the belief that hotter was better.  This belief has since shifted in a big way for me.  

Fast forward a few months, I signed up for teacher training at Bhumi's, where the yoga taught was mostly traditional hatha and it was AWESOME!  I started to learn about all different styles of yoga, such as anusara, kripalu, yin, ashtanga, restorative, nidra, bhakti, etc.  I found something to love in each style of practice.  I still loved HOT but I loved other styles too.  I LOVED it all!

Then, somewhere along the way, probably due to improper alignment or the repetitive movements (too many of the same postures), I started to experience pain in vinyasa class.  I tweaked a shoulder first. It took about 6 weeks of backing off my practice before it felt better.  Then, I had a few days of unbearable neck/back pain and Gina Schatz (an amazing body worker!) helped put me back together.  Gina helped me realize that my body is hypermobile.  I have joints that stretch farther than normal.  So of course, I loved yoga! I felt GOOD at it because I was already bendy!  Uh oh, was yoga a way to stroke my own ego?  That's another blog ;)   During this time, I realized that the heat was potentially allowing my already bendy joints to experience even greater range of motion and at some point, more flexibility is not better!  In my time as a yoga teacher, I have observed bodies that were so stiff that flexibility would benefit them.  I have also, on rare occasions, such as in my own body, observed yogis who needed to build strength rather than flexibility.  Without some strength, there's no stability in these skeletons.  Yoga can do both, it can build strength and flexibility.  For me, at this time in my life, I need to shift my focus to building a stronger yoga practice rather than a more flexible one.  I didn't feel that the heat was serving me in this time. 

Once my pain was gone, my curiosity about what was best for my physical, emotional, mental body remained.   I dove deeper into the practice of self awareness and brought a curious mind to each class I attended.  Instead of blindly following cues, I got more comfortable following the wisdom of my own body.  Now, if I experience pain, I am quick to adjust.  I learned when to push and when to back off.  I skip a lot of chatarunga's.   I prefer a warm room.   I prefer to move more slowly with more attention rather than believing that faster is better.   At times, I have pondered the irony that I am a co-owner in a studio that teaches a LOT of hot yoga when I myself right now, prefer warm or unheated classes.   Today, I think it's a good practice to notice my own aversions and to get uncomfortable at times to grow.  I do feel that for me, heat is beneficial at times.  So, once a week, I attend a class hotter than I would prefer.  It's good for me, it makes me uncomfortable and that's a growth opportunity.  I make sure to hydrate and replace electrolytes.  I enjoy how I feel afterwards.  Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I even enjoy the process of getting hot. 

So, my purpose of this entire blog is that for me, hotter isn't better.  If you're still reading this long drawn out note to you, I hope you will give all kinds of yoga a chance.  I hope you will examine your own preferences.  I hope you'll follow your intuition. I hope you'll listen to the wisdom of your own body.  I hope you'll also use your mind and research the benefits of hot yoga.  These bodies that we get to walk around in are pretty amazing and I for one, want to treat mine with care.  Sometimes that means you'll find me in a hot room, sweating my ass off... and sometimes that means I'm at a 2 hour yin workshop moving slow like molasses. To each their own, but whatever choice you make,  however you practice, my wish is that is benefits you. 



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The October Challenge

3Sisters Yoga and Fitness is coming up on its’ annual October Challenge. The Challenge is a month long event that provides a set time for those of us who would like to take our yoga practice to a different level and/or a chance to improve our level of fitness. It can also be a time to experiment, explore and maybe even surprise ourselves.

Last October I challenged myself to do a certain number of classes and to try each and every type of yoga class that is offered at 3Sisters. Easy enough considering I’m retired and I love practicing yoga. But in addition, I decided to try a month long experiment. I thought I’d try to quit drinking alcohol for the month.Now we’re talking about a challenge! See last October I was 60 years old and had been drinking for longer than I can believe or really want to admit. I’ll call it 42 years ( since that makes the math an age where I would have been legal) but really my first “drink” was a sip of Stroh’s beer with my Dad watching the Browns game somewhere around the age of 12.  Hey, at least I had adult supervision. Most of my adult life I have been a daily drinker. A good one. Good in the sense that I could carry on at my job and appear to have life mostly together. And, good in the sense that I was good at drinking. Most of the time I could drink a lot and be “okay”. I actually had a sequence, a routine, on my big nights out. A couple of Tanqueray’s and tonic with a lime ( don’t want to get scurvy),  a few Vodka and grapefruit, more than a couple of ice cold beers and then usually a good glass of Cabernet and a cigar. Drinking was a big part of who I thought I was and how others thought of me. Friends (and quite a few bartenders) knew my routine and and we took some pride in knowing each other’s.  You get the picture... I really liked to drink. As I write and read this I really sound like a boozer but I never considered myself one. And my friends didn’t consider me one either. So I wasn’t really sure about this idea of not drinking but I thought it’s only for a month and hey, I’ll get in good shape and maybe even lose a few pounds.I am not a regular user of Facebook. I do, however, occasionally check the 3Sisters Yoga and Fitness page. On that page last September, a  teacher from the studio , Lisa, “ liked” a book called “This Naked Mind-Control Alcohol-Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life.”  The book is written by a woman named Annie Grace. I normally would never read a book with such a long title but, given my upcoming challenge/experiment,  I decided to get it and take a look.I started the book on September 29th. The author writes in the beginning that the book is about alcohol, education and choices. She writes “ by the end of this book, you will be free to weigh the pros and the cons of drinking  and determine alcohol’s role in your life... you can remain happy ( good, I thought, because  I’m a happy guy,) about your choice because it will be yours alone, decided from a place of freedom rather than out of obligation or coercion.” I really liked the sound of that. But it got even better. She goes on to write “ Don’t change your daily routine-feel free to continue to drink while reading this book”. Huh? Yes! Well at least for a few days before October 1st. So I settled in on my chaise with a Tanqueray and tonic with a lime and read with curiosity piqued but with no expectations.Well I couldn’t put that book down and I plowed through it in less than a week. And I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since October 1st of last year. After just a few weeks I didn’t really find it difficult to not drink. I haven’t had to “deny” myself or avoid certain situations , people or “triggers”. Annie Grace writes that “I drink as much as I want whenever I want, The truth is I no longer have any desire to drink.” I have come to feel the same way. Looking back on my experience it reminds me of that great scene in Forrest Gump where he has been running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours and he stops in the middle of the road somewhere in the desert and says “ I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.” He goes on “ And just like that my runnin’ days was over”. Well, my drinkin’ days were a lot longer than Forrests’ running days. But if Forrest was a drinker like me he would have said “just like that my drinkin’ days was over”. In the book Annie Grace calls this “spontaneous sobriety” and I am very fortunate to have experienced it.

What has happened is wonderful. As a result of not drinking I have lowered my resting heart rate 10 beats per minute. I sleep better. I think more clearly. I I have lost and kept off 7% of my body weight. And my personal relationships are even more meaningful and richer. Another person who stopped drinking expressed  “it’s now like seeing everything in life in high definition”. It really is that way for me now.And perhaps most importantly I have found this feeling of complete freedom. (Just like the part of the long title of the book said I would!) I’m not sure I can explain it. Maybe someday. For now I’m just going to enjoy.I did meet my challenge of number classes at 3Sisters and trying every type of class offered. And I still have a tonic and a lime (still don’t want scurvy) but hold the gin please. 

I hope you challenge yourself at 3Sisters in October and maybe do a little bit of experimenting and exploring and maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

By: John, “the 3 sisters Dad”

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To ME from ME; when you feel uncomfortable

 

I opened my computer to write. It's a practice that I have leaned on for several years as a way to move ideas from thought energy on to the planet in a concrete, this isn't going anywhere, way. 

I have been stirring for the last several days. Searching for a rational, logical reason why I was/am in this state of discomfort. The full moon, I thought. Oh, wedding planning. Must be the transition back to work from a few days away. Works impact, I considered. Not moving my energy enough. High and low, we looked (my mind and I). It wanted answers and frankly, I wanted them too. 

The question: Why am I so uncomfortable?  

I, on occasion, send myself words of advice and counsel. I email them to myself from myself with a tagline that makes it easy for my future self to find. So this morning, It dawned on me that I may have some sweet words that may provide some ease. Sure enough. 

From:Halle (me)

To Halle ( me) 

Subject: Use this when you're not sure

Email's contents: Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Listen and stay. 

xo Halle 

The answer: 

Ah sweet sweet self. I am okay. And I am uncomfortable. And I will go to work. And I will breathe and be present. And hear stories and play games that help kids eliminate worry. And I  myself, may even be healed in the process ( no guarantees!) But old self, you wise thing you, thanks for the reminder to take a breath. and to pay attention. 

There is no answer. There is only the decision to stop running away from it. To lean in, even, and to listen. 

 

I hope this love note serves as a reminder to you. 

Sweetly,

Halle

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