Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Flourishing Farewell

Written by Jessica Addeo

Flourish: (verb) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment

If I think about the past year and half I spent teaching at Shree Yoga “flourish” is the word that comes to mind. As I prepared to teach my final class at Shree on June 21st, this word reverberated through me. I began teaching at Shree in January of 2016 as I was completing my second teacher training with Chaya and Susan. I felt nervous and unsure of my capacities to be a teacher at such a high caliber studio. Part of what makes Shree so high caliber is the quality and integrity of the people who not only teach there, but also the students who attend. Because I was surrounded by these people weekly as I taught, every class, every month I felt more comfortable in my new role. Where I was once insecure I felt more grounded. For every student who told me my class helped them, I grew. Planning my classes, practicing speaking from my heart out loud and meeting so many inspiring people is an experience I will keep. This is the ultimate gift of a yoga practice, whether that practice is a taking a class, teaching a class, or simply taking a few focused breaths in the morning before you start your day. Finding more and more layers of yourself in a supportive way and finding those people and spaces that allow you flourish fully into who you already are.

I am leaving my teaching position at Shree to make space for a new baby in my life, I know the lessons I learned and the growth I gained from teaching will not only stay with me but help guide me in this new role. The following is my favorite home practice, I can’t do all of it now that I am 7 months pregnant, but it is what I taught my last class at Shree. It is my ode to Shree Yoga, a place where I found my voice and stepped more fully into myself. Thank you!!

Jessica's Home Practice Sequence Gift for You:

-Start seated with a few moments to connect with your breath. (I like to place one hand on my heart and one on my belly).
-Child’s Pose (This is my favorite way to start a practice, I am bowing to myself and to my practice, honoring my time on the mat)
-Come to hands and knees and move through a few rounds of cat/cow.
-Thread the Needle on each side
-Hands and Knees back to child’s pose
-Flip to lay down on your back (have a strap handy)
-Step feet mat distance apart and let knees drop in towards each other, place your hands on your belly and again take a few moments to connect with your breath.
-Draw one knee in at a time, pause, straighten your leg and hook the strap under your foot. Point and flex your foot several times, open your leg out to the side first, come back to center and then take your leg across your body. Do on both sides with a long pause in between sides.
-Supine Pigeon: Place your ankle on your opposite knee, draw your legs into your chest. Do both sides.
-Moving very slowly, roll to your side and slowly make our way to standing.
-3-4 Half Sun Salutations: Inhale reach arms up, exhale forward bend, inhale lengthen spine and look up, exhale fold, inhale come up halfway, bring hands to your hips and come all the way to standing.
-Standing Side body stretch (2x each side): Inhale reach arms up, grab a hold of wrist, root down through same side leg and side bend opposite way.
-Inhale lengthen side body, roll head of arms bone back and interlace hands behind back. Fold forward reaching knuckles up towards ceiling. Hold for a couple of breaths, gently release hands to ground. Shake head yes and no several times. Step back to downward facing dog.
-Lunge on each side (back knee down): Reach arms up, grab a hold of same side arm as back leg, gently lengthen up and side bend.
-Twisting lunge on each side (sometimes I keep back knee down, sometimes I lift it up…): Same side hand as back leg stays on mat, reach opposite arm up. Take gaze where it feels best for your neck, up at your top hand isn’t the only option!
In between the lunges, I play around with what feels best for my body. Sometimes I hold down dog, sometimes I go through a vinyasa, and some days I stay in hands and knees or take a few breaths in child’s pose.
-Slowly make your way back to standing, come to a wide legged stance on your mat. Once more inhale and lengthen through side body, roll head of arm bones back, interlace hands and fold forward (knuckles up towards ceiling). As you are ready release your hands gently down on to the mat. Inhale lengthen and exhale and fold several times.
-Walk your hands forward so they are in more of down dog position (keep your hips over your ankles). I like to push down and forward with my hands gently to lengthen my spine and root further back into my hips.
-Take a twist in this wide legged position by reaching your hand to your opposite shin and twisting underneath your arm. Alternatively, you can keep your hands under shoulders, center one hand under your face (on the mat) and lift the opposite arm up. Slowly make your way up to standing after you have done each side. 
-Standing Poses: Warrior 2, reverse warrior, side angle pose (I almost always rest my forearm on my thigh), triangle pose. One of the best gifts I ever gave myself in my practice is permission to place my gaze where it is comfortable in triangle. Sometimes that is down at the ground or straight ahead versus up at my top hand. On some days, my neck and upper back feel open and I do take my gaze up and open through my heart, but it is always my choice not a given.
-Come back to standing at the top of your mat. Bring hands together in front of your heart and close your eyes. Notice your body, your breath, the palpable change that a practice brings. Notice all the ways you have flourished in your practice up until this point. 
-Pigeon Pose 
-Seated Twist
-Lay down on your back. Supine Twist When I twist on my back I like to take my bottom foot and place it on my top knee, stretch my arms over head and give a gently pull up to length my side body a bit more.

 If I have the time (or really need to ground and center myself) I do legs up the wall to end my practice. Admittedly this is one of my favorite yoga poses, when I can’t find my center or feel scattered it always helps put me back together.

-Savasana: I check in with the center of my forehead and try to release any tension I am holding there, I check in behind my eye sockets and try to let my eyes sink deeply in, I open and close my jaw a few times and drop my tongue of the roof of my mouth and then slip away into savasana. These are cues I have picked up from teachers along the way and they help me to rest and restore. When I am coming out of savasana I always pause rolled to my side for a breath or two, taking a last moment to relish in my time with myself. I then come to seated take a few breaths and slowly open my eyes.

Although I will not be teaching for some time, I look forward to resuming my role as a student of Shree Yoga. Thank you to all the teachers who supported me, to Chaya for always providing me with words of encouragement, to Susan for setting this all up and to all the students. Trust me when I say being your teacher was transformative for me and you all have a special place in my heart. Happy Practicing!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shree Expert Teacher Focus: Jan Jeremias

 Jan Jeremias RYT 200

Jan has been practicing yoga since 2006 and teaching since 2010. She feels that Yoga continues to provide her with the tools to handle the “rollercoaster” of life and is passionate about sharing the teachings of yoga with her students. Read below to learn more about her practice (on and off the mat) as well as get a sneak peek into her newer class “Yoga for Strong Bones”.

What is your biggest physical challenge in your practice? 
The greatest physical challenge for me is my scoliosis, which manifests as a curve in my spine and a rotation of the pelvis and shoulders. At points in my life this has caused me pain and some physical limitations. As a result of my scoliosis I have altered my yoga practice to one that is slow, deep and very mindful.  I learned early on to divide my body into quadrants or parts and learned what each area needed to be doing so that the poses were comfortable, safe, and beautiful. For me this awareness or mindfulness has been refining each pose so that each time I practice, the asanas/poses becomes deeper, more meaningful and I am able to explore my body just a little more. This mindfulness practice is quieting for me and creates a feeling of calmness which brings me to my mat over and over again. It even astonishes me sometimes how that if I focus on what I need to do and where my breathe needs to be directed I can stay balanced, safe, full of light and stability even with my physical challenges and limitations. Scoliosis has shown me my gifts as a teacher as it helped me find my passion for teaching yoga therapeutics and yoga for strong bones.  

** Jan teaches Yoga for Strong Bones. Her classes are creative and fun. In her class, she guides the student through poses that are beneficial for building strong bones and shares which bones and parts of the body are being nurtured and strengthened by the specific poses. See below for more information on her class!**

Who inspires you? Why?
am inspired by poetry. I find my greatest inspiration comes from reading poetry. I love the great works of Mary Oliver, David Whyte, Rumi, and Jeffrey Foster. Right now I draw inspiration for my life and classes from the beautiful words of David Whyte. Let's look more closely at poetry. A good poem, or even a good line of poetry, can very swiftly and deftly pierce the heart and I have found that both poetry and the physical practices of yoga move me in deep and personal ways. My favorite poet David Whyte expressed a similar sentiment on the NPR show “On Being” with Krista Tippett. He said that poetry is "a language against which you have no defenses." I feel like poetry provides me with insight and helps me to live my life with an open heart. I read poetry in my classes hoping that my students will feel or connect in with their own hearts. My intention is that I am able to show my students that our yoga poses can be like poems that we write with our bodies. The practice of yoga is an art if we practice it as such and that art might be different for each of us. 

Jan's Hydrating and Nourishing Sugar Scrub: 
I have been making sugar scrubs to nourish and hydrate my skin. It is very fun, easy and I love being creative. Currently for spring I am adding in Eucalyptus, Lemon and Lavender essential oils as I suffer from seasonal allergies. Eucalyptus helps to open up the sinuses and air passages, Lavender has anti-histamine like properties, and lemon is great at supporting the immune system. This simple practice allows me to enjoy spring and all the wonderful beauty that comes with this beautiful time of year. 

Jan's Sugar Scrub for Allergies
1/2 cup Organic Sugar
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil 
4 drops Lemon Essential Oil
2 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
2 tbsp. Fractionated Coconut Oil


Even 10 seconds in a yoga pose can help trigger chemicals in the body that build bone mass.  With yoga, you can protect and lubricate your joints safely for an increased range of motion while building strong bones.

A disease characterized by weak, thinning bones that can lead to fractures — affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide, and one in three women over 50 experience osteoporotic fractures. Classic risk factors for osteoporosis include being female, age, low body weight and smoking. Forty-four million Americans suffer from low bone mass. Osteoporosis leads to painful fractures due to loss of bone mass; yoga strengthens bones without endangering joints: it stands to reason that yoga is the perfect therapy for osteoporosis. Drugs and surgeries can alleviate pain, but study after study has shown that exercise is the best treatment, specifically low-impact, bone-strengthening exercises―hence, yoga.” (Yoga for Osteoporosis by Fishman MD and Saltonstall). Studies show that with consistent careful yoga practice, Osteoporosis can be arrested and even reversed.  

 This class is a great fit if you have scoliosis. Jan can help you expertly modify to most optimally align your spine! Here is one of Jan's favorite poses for bone health:

Viparita Karani is often called Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, but viparita actually means "inverted," and karani means "in action." We can interpret that to mean that the pose inverts the typical actions that happen in our bodies when we sit and stand. There are many benefits to inverting the actions in your body. Here are a few: When you put your legs up the wall with your pelvis elevated on a folded blanket, lymph and other fluids that can lead to swollen ankles, tired knees, and congested pelvic organs flow into the lower belly; this refreshes the legs and the reproductive area. This pose also gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, which creates a pleasant rebalancing after you have been standing or sitting for a long time. 

Alignment: Start on your side as close to a wall as possible. Swing your legs up onto the wall and your shoulders and head lightly down onto the floor. Lift and release the base of your skull away from the back of your neck and soften your throat. Take a small roll (made from a towel for example) under your neck if the cervical spine feels flat. Release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.Keep your legs relatively firm, just enough to hold them vertically in place. Release the heads of the thigh bones and the weight of your belly deeply into your torso, toward the back of the pelvis. Soften your eyes and turn them down to look into your heart. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. 

If you are concerned about your bones and would also like to reduce stress and move with more freedom then join Jan for this slow therapeutic class to heal mind, body, and bones.  

Gentle Therapeutic on Tuesday 1:30 to 2:45 PM
Yoga for Strong Bones on Friday 12:30 to 1:45 PM

**This week only, bring a friend to their first class at Shree and they get to take the class for free and learn Jan’s remedy for bone mass building. **

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Straight from the Heart: Why I Did Shree's Anusara Teacher Training

Written by Jessica Addeo

Joining Shree’s Anusara Teacher Training in the fall of 2015 was a completely unexpected decision. I had already done a prior teacher training and was not currently teaching (or planning on starting to teach) yoga. Furthermore, my life felt busy and full, I had just changed jobs in my full-time career and was newly married. However, every time I went to class and heard Chaya or one of the other teacher’s mention the training something pulled at my heart. I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up.

 I could tell you that in the training I learned all about yoga anatomy, yoga philosophy, yoga postures and the tenets of Anusara yoga and all of that would be true. The leaders of the training at Shree are talented, capable, and experienced teachers on every level. But what I learned about most, what made the training worth it, was myself. At the start, I felt shy about the fact that I had done a training previously; mostly because I didn’t feel like a “yoga teacher”. I didn’t want to make the others in the group uncomfortable and I knew from experience how awkward it can feel to try and teach out loud for the first time. As the weekends went on I literally grew more comfortable in my own skin, felt braver to say what I knew out loud and slowly began to develop a new level of self-confidence. I stepped into my role, found my voice, and found people to share it with. That was what kept pulling at me every time the training was mentioned. My heart was asking me to do this.

 In addition to all the learning and self-exploration that the training evoked, the sense of community, the wonderful people I met and developed relationships with, stand out as a huge reason why you should consider joining. Every weekend we shared a meal together Saturday night, sitting around a blanket crossed legged in the studio left me feeling so completely nourished. Although it is hard to take a weekend out of our busy lives and dedicate it primarily to yoga, I guarantee you won’t feel depleted. Every weekend, no matter how tired, how many other things I had going on outside of yoga, I walked away feeling so full and thankful. To have found a space to not only practice the yoga that I love, but to also get to share myself with others and go deeper inside myself, was an invaluable life experience.

At the end of the training we were all required to teach a class. This was by far my most favorite part of the course. I was not the only one cultivating my own voice, we were all doing it and all supporting each other simultaneously. Hearing the fellow members of our group teach a class and sounding so much like themselves and like “real yoga teachers” was moving and unforgettable. Yes, doing a teacher training is about yoga, but it is about so much more. If any part of you is curious about the training, listen to your heart. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

See what some of the other graduates are saying about their experience:

“I started my yoga teacher training with the idea to go deeper into my practice, physically and spiritually: the search for my real me. What I discovered on the road during these 9 months was not only how much I love Anusara yoga (the style Shree yoga practices and teaches) but also how much I want to spread this love by teaching myself. The way Chaya and all my other teachers lead our group through these magic and challenging times still amazes me with its professionalism, depth, understanding of what we need as students and as human beings, complexity, and infinite joy. For me each teacher training weekend was like a mini yoga retreat: studying, practicing, being with people I fell in love. Now, a year later our group of new teachers is still together, supporting each other, enjoying teaching, getting together once a month. We are a Kula, community of the heart.”
- Emi Fendian

The Shree TT was one of the most meaningful and challenging things I have undertaken. It was transformative.  The expert teachers who guided us through the year have a level of understanding that is rare even among the most accomplished teachers, and this is the best preparation you can get to prepare you to teach this complex discipline. In addition, the ties that formed between people in the group are lasting and have helped sustain me in my first year of teaching. Studying this material is a life-long pursuit, but you will search far and wide before you can find another teacher training program that will prepare you for that journey in the way this one does.”
- Amy Nolan

 Shree is offering a Teacher Training September 2017- May 2018. This training is not offered annually, so this is a special occurrence. It will be co-taught by Chaya Spencer and Rachel Dewan, both ERYT 500 and Anusara Certified teachers. Email Chaya to reserve a spot at one of the upcoming free informational sessions @   

·       Monday May 22 at 12:45 PM
·       Saturday, June 24 at 1:00 PM
·       Sunday, July 16 at 1:00 PM

·       Monday, August 14 at 7:30 PM