yoga

Reduce Stress, Build Strength with Yoga

June 4, 2021
Person doing a push up under the words reduce strenth and build strength

Every year since 2007 the American Psychological Association (APA) has commissioned a nationwide survey to examine levels of stress across the United States. When they conducted their study this year — one year after the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic — they found stress levels have risen considerably. Some of the statistics are staggering.

After seeing that report, I feel like now is a good time to mention that in addition to the gentle yoga classes I teach on Monday and Wednesday mornings, I teach strength-focused Hatha Yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6:30am Central through Spirit of the Lake. Not only do these classes provide an opportunity to practice breath awareness and mindfulness that can reduce mental stress and chatter, but these Hatha classes can help you build muscle, flexibility, stability, and endurance.

Drupal as an Ethical Base

June 2, 2021
Drupal logo in cement

Last week, when I renewed my yoga teaching credentials through the Yoga Alliance, I was required to agree to an "Ethical Commitment" based on values intrinsic to the practice of yoga, such as ahiṃsā (nonviolence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (not stealing), aparigraha (non-possessiveness), and santoṣa (contentment). While it might seem like such an agreement would be limited to my role as a yoga teacher, these same principles inform decisions that I make in all aspects of my life, including how I build my website.

The values and principles of the Drupal community align well with the Ethical Commitment to which all yoga teachers certified by the Yoga Alliance must agree. This article explains why I use Drupal as the ethical base of my online presence.

Geese in the Gardens

May 22, 2021
Matthew sitting in nature with a family of geese

On Thursday I had the pleasure to lead a "Yoga in the Gardens" class at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It had been raining much of the day, and the possibility of rain continued during the class. In spite of that, nearly 50 people showed up.

The highlight of the evening occurred just a few minutes after I started teaching when a family of geese showed up and started walking toward me. Luckily, just before they got to me, they turned right into the marsh. One of the students in the class was kind enough to share her picture of that moment.

Yoga in the Gardens Tomorrow

May 19, 2021
People doing yoga outside near a red barn

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 20, I will be offering a yoga class through the "Yoga in the Gardens" program at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Classes are FREE for members of the Arboretum and Spirit of the Lake. This class is sure to be enjoyable for beginners or experienced yogis. If the weather is nice we'll be in the Iris Garden and masks will not be required, but if the class moves indoors due to rain then masks must be worn for the entire indoor practice. Be sure to bring your yoga mat!

Mindfulness of Breathing

January 24, 2021
Person in the woods eyes closed with head against a tree

Breath is an ever-present aspect of life, which is part of the reason why "mindfulness of breathing," or ānāpānasati in Pāli, is probably the most common form (object) of meditation. Typically, the practice involves focusing attention on the physical sensations caused by the movement of the breath, the in-breaths and the out-breaths. Mindfulness of breathing is a feeling practice, not a thinking practice. It's so profoundly simple that we can do it at any time, whether seated in meditation, holding a yoga posture, or picking up after the dog.

Cultivate the Garden of the Mind

January 17, 2021
Garden with purple and yellow flowers

Yogis, meditators, mindfulness coaches, Christians, and countless other spiritual seekers commonly employ the metaphor of the garden to represent stewardship. To view the mind as a garden is to view it as a place with potential value and commit to cultivating it. One must locate the space and make effort, which can take a variety of forms. One can tend to the garden of the mind while doing yoga, meditation, or any other activity in life.

Community Yoga Classes

January 4, 2021
Community Yoga Classes poster with people doing down dog

Starting tomorrow, Spirit of the Lake will begin offering free, live, online community yoga classes on Tuesday evenings, 5:30-6:30pm, to support the needs of the greater community. Each week during the month of January will feature a different Spirit of the Lake teacher.

Free Gentle Yoga Class

December 26, 2020
Yoga mat with a free yoga class on December 27

Due to the success of the free yoga class I taught last weekend, I will be offering another free, online Gentle Yoga class tomorrow, Sunday, December 27 at 9am Central.

This class is for people of any age, including seniors and those with minor physical ailments, who prefer a more relaxed practice. Gentle Yoga introduces the basic foundations of any yoga practice by introducing proper alignment of yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and dhyana (guided meditation). Working gently, slowly, and compassionately, this class develops strength, flexibility, peacefulness, and clarity.

Practice Yoga and Support the ICA Food Shelf

December 1, 2020
fresh food

For the entire month of December, 100% of the proceeds from all of my yoga classes will go to the ICA Food Shelf.

The mission of the ICA Food Shelf is "to offer hope as we provide assistance to our neighbors in need." Since 1971 they have provided food, clothing, and other vital assistance to people in my community. For instance, in local schools ICA distributes food bags, which contain easy-to-prepare food for the weekend, and also fit comfortably into a backpack.