Move It Or Lose It —Variety is The Spice of Embodiment..

foot and hand danceby Julian Walker

I have been reflecting lately, as I continue my own studies and experiential exploration of mind-body practice, on the old adage “move it or lose it…”

In neuroscience there is the relatively new (20 years or so) concept of neuroplasticity.

This is defined as how the brain changes both function and structure in response to experience.

In terms of practice, it is very pertinent that mindful states heighten neuroplastic change in the brain, as does the feel-good reward chemistry activated by physical activity, meditation etc..

The sweet spot for neuroplastic change combines:

* Familiar beneficial routines: yoga sequences, dance warm ups, meditation techniques, familiar locations, communities, and rituals, with
* Novel experiences: new physical and mental challenges and discoveries, all held in
* The mindful, warm-hearted sense of exploration and self-care
* An open-ness to acknowledging and taking in what feels good, while cultivating resilience and compassion in the face of our difficulties.

So, mix it up, friends!

Come to yoga, come to Dance Tribe, meditate at your desk for 2 to 5 minutes before you reply to THAT email, roll around on the floor at home before dinner for 15 minutes, experimenting with new movement patterns that use familiar shapes or sequences as a platform for improvisation.

Notice the blind spots you usually avoid and get interested in how you can reclaim resilient, courageous, compassionate engagement of how you work with that shoulder, low back, sense of gratitude or forgiveness, open-ness to new experience and healthy risk taking etc…


My Evolving Sequence: Stability & Variety in Movement

If you take my classes regularly, you may have noticed that my yoga sequence has evolved over the last few years to include a couple significant new innovations:

1) I have been seeking to highlight moments of the kind of joint stability work that has been sorely lacking in the last 40 years or so of yoga instruction.bracing

This has included refining certain aspects of the core work I learned from Ana Forrest many years ago, when she was pioneering the inclusion of abdominal exercise in yoga.

Because human knowledge keeps evolving, in the years since, the “draw your navel toward your belly” instruction has been replaced (based on newer research) with more of a focus on “abdominal bracing” or firming up your core as if expanding a cylinder form the center of your abdomen outward in all directions.

I have also been really exploring how to focus on shoulder stability, because this is our most mobile, versatile, and therefore vulnerable joint —and the fast swooping caturanga that has characterized the popular flow sequence since the last 90’s has a massive blind spot in terms of bearing all your weight rapidly down to the floor in that fancy-looking (but bad for your rotator cuff) transition!

In addition to emphasizing more of a joint stability awareness (hips, low back and shoulders) you may have noticed me seeking to inspire an attitude of inquiry around movement…

The transitions in and out of postures, rotating certain joints as part of the more static posture, and reminding your brain and neuromuscular system that there are ranges of motion, and responsive articulations that have to be used in order not to be lost!

Routine is good —but if we always do the same things in exactly the same ways, we run the risk of conditioning a very limited sense of embodiment, and also of going into auto-pilot mode and missing the alive, intelligent, curious exploration that always unfolds only in the present moment.

For me, yoga, dance, martial arts, fitness, and any kind of mindful practice, are all part of one continuum that invites adaptive health in response to experience and placing demands on our system.

I am excited to keep sharing this process with you!

See you soon,

Jay Fields Joins Our California Yoga Teacher Training Faculty!

j_fieldsWe are delighted to announce the new addition to our teaching staff: veteran teacher, author, trail-blazer, and all-around inspiring human being Jay Fields.

She is a perfect fit for what Julian and Hala have created, and will bring a unique and well-honed skill set to our California yoga teacher training.

Here is her official bio:

Jay Fields is not your ordinary yoga teacher.  As the author of the books Teaching People, Not Poses and Homebody Yoga, Jay is praised for walking her talk and for supporting her clients in showing up authentically and unapologetically. Jay’s gift lies in her practical and poetic approach to helping people find embodied integrity. She does this through yoga that is as alignment-focused as it is introspective, and through a private somatic mentoring practice. She has spent the last 15 years leading vision quests, teaching yoga and helping people fall to pieces so they can come back together whole. She holds a Masters degree in Integral Transformative Education.

Jay begins her AHEM tenure in the 2015 training starting January 9 , and will be weaving in her pragmatic, detailed and authentic take on alignment, anatomy and an approach to practice and teaching rooted in embracing our vulnerability and cultivating genuine self-awareness.

Find out more and read some of Jay’s astute and honest writing here.

YOU Have A Unique Voice To Share As A Yoga Teacher!

One of our highest values is helping our trainees find their voice. We are not interested in you becoming cookie cutter teachers and mimicking us! We believe that everybody has a unique expression as a yoga teacher. When you teach from who you really are, you are naturally more compelling. So, in addition to learning the nuts and bolts of safely teaching yoga, the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training invites you to investigate what gifts you really want to share.

Early-Bird Pricing is NOW Good through 12/15 —Find Out More Here:
2016 Training