Yoga For You? Yes. Yoga With Calley? You Be The Judge.
Hello readers –
I start teaching TWO NEW CLASSES this week at Modus Locus, a community space in S. Minneapolis, starting bright and early tomorrow morning at 8am. See the calendar with class descriptions here on the Modus Locus website.
We all know “yoga is good for you.” I’ll refine that a bit and say that gentle movement of the body that activates the muscles and mobilizes the joints in a safe way, while stretching the brain’s concept of “body awareness,” is, indeed, good for you. In a world where there are free yoga classes in every park, how do you decide what is the right place for you to familiarize – or continue – the learning process of your body and life through yoga?
I’ll start with a caveat, focusing on my word above – safe. This could be a whole other soap box for a whole other blog post, but for today I’ll just say this: in a world where many of the images of yoga we see as marketing material are very skilled practitioners with advanced practices doing advanced poses, its easy to get away from the fundamentals and foundation of what a yoga practice is for.
So here it is, folks: My “THIS IS THE YOGA I TEACH NUTSHELL”:
A time and place to unify your body, mind, life experiences, and spirit into safe and applicable movement and stillness for you, as they exist today.
So THIS is what I aim to teach every day. Where are you today? Where is your life? Where is your body? Where is there mobility in your body, where do you feel your breath? In our western establishment of medicine, we largely treat our bodies like a sum of parts. The reason I have stuck with yoga and opted out of sparkly ideas about getting a nursing degree, or a behavioral counselor’s license is this: I am interested in not only getting you to think about the sum of your parts. I’m interested in getting you to think about all of what makes your body and your life. Your body is a system, just like your life. Yes, there are parts. And yes, occasionally there are parts that break down, or get injured. But those parts are connected to other parts. Learning to connect your body to work together as one optimally productive unit is like an insurance plan for when one of the parts breaks down – it has a strong connection and access to the strength of all those other parts.
In the last year I’ve been specifically doing a lot of reading about the nervous system. As a creative mind myself, I spent eleven years making a living in a performance and performance-teaching realm, all the while learning and bulking up my knowledge base of yoga and related healing practices and modalities. After eleven years of study and practice, and after learning how to transform my own body from a sickly pile to a resilient, strong being, I took a dive into this world of “teaching yoga.” And as a person who gets giddy like a goldilocks about connecting the concept of “create,” and “body state,” in ways that can be practically explained and practiced, the nervous system is, to me – and in our modern world of medicine – the vast mystery we are trying to learn more about in quantifiable ways. THIS IS WHY I TEACH.
I’m fascinated by the effect that experience has on us. When you go to a concert of music you love, when you are engaged in building something, or riding a motorcycle, or reading a book, or maybe even writing a book – any activity that brings you joy – when you are actively participating in the thing that brings you joy, you feel different. You have a sense of care-free-ness. You feel light, and happy.
By contrast when you’re presented with a problem – you get an awful cold, your boss gets mad at you, you are the boss and you’re mad at an employee, something in your house breaks, or, you know, something in your life breaks… you feel stuck. Frustrated, angry, or just plain sad and miserable. All of these experiences play out into our bodies, in an over-simplified explanation through small individual components called neuropeptides (among a host of other physical functions that are simultaneously happening – remember, the body is a system.)
So these neuropeptides are like signals for the nervous system. As stated by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “neuropeptides are the most diverse class of signaling molecules in the brain engaged in many physiological functions.”
THIS IS MY JAM, FOLKS! And its why I play specific music in my classes. It’s why I cue you to feel where your breath feels good. We all want more good in our lives. And while we can’t avoid the reality of “oh shit, that just happened,” what we are learning is that through PRACTICE, we can learn to participate in the very basic functions of our brain, and therefor body. We can chose to turn our attention, our focus, to practice and breathe in a certain way. We can choose to address or ignore the “parts” of our lives that are causing ailment. We can create guidelines, which, with practice, become habits that help us to move forward in the ever-changing wheel that is life.
We learn to observe all the parts of our lives, so that piece by piece, day by day, pose by pose, we can create a life that is abundant in health and happiness.
This. This is what I aim to teach. Yoga is so much more than poses to me. And we are so much more than just a pile of skin, muscles, and bones, just as our lives are so much more than just making money and owning things.
We are a complex system, us humans. I am endlessly inspired and energized to participate in learning about my own existence and health, and to aid in that process for any who come to take yoga practice with me.