Winter Solstice Yoga

Winter Solstice image

 
Friday, December 21, 2018
5:45 pm – 7:30 pm
TMC Wellness through Movement
2134 N. 2nd St.
Harrisburg, PA

Event by donation to support the Harrisburg Peace Garden

December, more than most any month, can go one of two ways. One is all tangled, all covered with bramble. You can get lost, what with all of the noise and all of the bright colored lights. But December, if you choose, if you allow it, can be the trail through the woods that leads to light, far off in the distance.

Join us to celebrate the winter solstice with yoga by candlelight in a practice of movement, breath, chant and meditation.
Class taught by Elizabeth Terry

Please reserve your spot by June 20th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

 

Event Flyer
The Movement Center website

 

Fall Foliage Yoga

Fall foliage

 
Come Celbrate Autumn’s Beauty
Led by Elizabeth Terry

 
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Loaves and Fishes Farm
1810 York Road, Dover PA 17315

Yoga from 10:00-11:30am. Light lunch and fun to follow!

Give yourself a day to be refreshed, nourished, and shared with a supportive, uplifting community. Bring your yoga mat, walking shoes and farm friendly clothes for yoga and checking out the goats and newest calves, petting donkeys, visiting the sheep, hugging chickens and enjoying the fall foliage at the farm.

Yoga practice will be outside, if weather permits, inside if there is rain or cold. A free will offering will be accepted to support the work of Loaves and Fishes Farms.

Please reserve your spot by October 30th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

 
For more info on the farm, check out their Facebook page – Facebook.com/LoavesAndFishesFarm or contact:
Farmer Jen Briggs jenbriggs@comcast.net or (717) 774-0794
Farmer Bonnie McCann bonniejmccann@comcast.net or (717) 319-7721

When you become part of the Loaves and Fishes Farms’ family, you join us in our commitment to grow and eat healthy food that replenishes the soil and protects air and water.”

 
Directions (from Harrisburg area)

Interstate 83 south to the Yocumtown Exit. At Light make a left and then an immediate Right on to Taylor Road. Follow that road for about 3.5 miles. You will cross over Rt. 382 (Lewisberry Road) which then becomes York Road, this is curvy and you will pass the Susquehanna Speedway and the farmer market on your left and you will pass a church and school on your right. The Loaves and Fishes Farm is on the corner of Red Bank and York Road. It is a white house with green shutters – the kitchen is in the garage (doesn’t everyone have a kitchen in the garage?)

1810 York Road
Dover, Pa 17315

Event Flyer

A Wonderful Gift

Cat
 

No matter what happens in the world “…faith is embedded in our heart and nobody can take it from us.”

– TKV Desikachar, “What Are We Seeking?” (165)

On May 24 my husband, Jim, and I held our dear kitty Bagheera in our arms as the veterinarian injected a drug into his vein, and he drew his last breath. I know we are not alone in having to make hard decisions that determine how the last days of a beloved animal companion will pass. But when you are actually in that position, indecision, uncertainty, fear, and grief may all surface making clear thinking impossible.

Bagheera was 18 years old. He had a mass on his bladder, diagnosed only a week or so before it led to his failing. That was among the many health issues he faced all his life. The numerous bottles of pills that sat on our kitchen counter over the years testified to that. And, in spite of the fact that I was the daily dispenser of pills, occasional liquid medications and shots – all of which he hated – he still treated me like a buddy.

He came into our lives when he was about nine months old from a PAWS rescue site. He was skinny, had a thin coat, and a nervous demeanor. But it didn’t take long until his little belly grew round and his black fur grew thick and shiny. Bagheeera loved to be petted and brushed, which of course we indulged. But he indulged me, as well, as he folded himself into a meatloaf and lay on my belly purring while I lay in bed at night. In the winter he slept on the back of the chair where I sat in front of the wood stove, his tail draped over my shoulder. I know many of you will know exactly what I mean when I say we had a very close relationship, and I loved this cat just as much as if he were human. I was not alone, as people who knew him loved his sweetness too.

When it became clear that Bagheera was not going to survive the tumor, I grieved. Mornings I didn’t want to get out of bed. My first thought was that I couldn’t deal with watching him die, with losing him. Jim and I struggled to figure out what the best choice was for him – to let him pass peacefully at home or to intervene and have him put to sleep – a euphemism that hardly speaks to what it really is. To pass peacefully at home was a wonderful thought, but what about pain?, What if his death was the furthest thing from peaceful? What path was the kindest? What was most respectful of his life? The conversation in my head flipped anxiously from my suffering and loss to Bagheera’s. I felt immobilized.

And, then I prayed. I asked for help, for guidance, for strength, to just be relieved of my self-centered concerns and to be able to be a source of comfort to this kitty who needed comfort now.

What I received was “faith.” I don’t mean faith, like religious faith, I mean what the Yoga Sutra calls sraddha. Sraddha is translated as conviction, courage, confidence. It has been described as “a deep, positive, unshakeable conviction that reveals and nourishes strength.” And, the teaching is that sraddha is present within each one of us. We just have to tap into it. For me, sraddha was the certainty that I would be able to care lovingly for Bagheera as he needed, and that Jim and I would know the kindest choice for Bagheera’s end of life.

This sraddha allowed me to hear the feedback of others. A friend who was a nurse told me that now we were dealing with “kitty hospice,” helping me to see this time was really about Bagheera and making him as comfortable as possible. The veterinarian who had been caring for Bagheera said there was nothing more that could be done, and with the mass he had, he would most likely suffer greatly.

Faith is sometimes knowing what the next right thing is to do and having the courage to do it. But it doesn’t mean there is no loss or sadness. Some days the heaviness of the air and quietness of our house can feel great.

But I ask myself, how do I want to remember Bagheera and our life together? Do I want it to be the images of his last days when he could no longer even walk, or eat, or drink? Those images grow less vivid as I work instead to see him as he was when he was well. When I do, I can almost smell the sweet smell of his fur, feel its softness, hear his loud “meow” as he carried his stuffed bear, and the exquisite joy of looking into his big green eyes. When my mind goes there, so goes my heart. He was ever faithful. Ever a blessing in my life.

Japan Reflections: Respect

6/03/17 blog image

On our recent yoga retreat to Kyoto and the village of Kurama, our group of seventeen visited many shrines and temples. With each one, our wonderful guide, Chiharu, explained not only the history and significance of each sacred place, but she also unfolded the beliefs and concepts underlying the two religions of Japan: Shintoism and Buddhism.

At one point in our travels, as we stood before a Shinto shrine on the path up the mountain to the Kurama-dera mountain temple, Chiharu said, “Religion in the West is more about believing, religion in Japan is about respecting.” She, of course, was talking about “respect” in its deepest sense, something like “reverence,” “veneration,” even “love.”

I couldn’t help but wonder what it means to live one’s life with such an attitude of deep respect.

In Japan, we observed “respect” practiced in many forms: in how people always bowed to one another and to us; in how the meals were served with great care; in how the city streets were clean and without litter; how even the trash trucks were freshly painted and their fenders shiny; in how ancestors are honored and remembered. Respect was also apparent in attitudes toward nature: a reverence toward trees, some of which exceeded a thousand years in age, toward mountains, which are worship by some as links between earthly life and deities. In the deer park in Nara, I even witnessed a young man, probably of high school age, bowing reverently to the deer who approached him, deer who are considered sacred in this city.

It appeared to me that a deeper connection to and reverence toward nature and the seasons exists in Japanese culture than here in the West. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we held as a cultural value an attitude of reverence and caring toward the forests and waters, the mountains, the air, and wildlife. Would we not take care of, rather than polluting, the waters so they would be clean and pure; revere, rather than remove, our mountain tops, preserve, rather than destroy, forests and habitats for wildlife. I love the lines from Joy Harjo’s “Eagle Poem,” which, though she is Native American, seem to express the kind of reverence that I sensed in Kyoto.

We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the upmost care
And kindness in all things.

The concepts of “respect” and “reverence” are very much the underpinning of the teachings of yoga. What are referred to as the first two “limbs” of yoga recommend five ethical practices (yama) and five personal practices (niyama).

The five ethical practices are: non-violence, truthfulness, honesty, moderation, non-covetousness. The five personal practices are: cleanliness, contentment, a disciplined life aiming for mental and physical balance, self-study, devotion to a Higher Principle.

Each of the ethical practices implies living with respect toward all sentient beings and taking care not to cause harm, which are necessary in order to have a peaceful mind. Nicolai Bachman in his book the Path of the Yoga Sutras states: “Each yama is a guideline for behaving in a benevolent manner toward others so as to support the process of quietly turning inward and discovering our true nature (140). The respect we show through the practices of the yamas implies a respect and reverence toward ourselves since we each share the same inner light as all other beings.

Sometimes obstacles can limit our ability to live with the attitude of respect and care for ourselves that the niyamas imply. Many of us received teachings growing up that taught we should always put ourselves last to be a “good” person and that our most important goal should be serving others. I know for myself and many others with whom I have spoken that focusing on self-care or personal practices can raise feelings of guilt. Yet, if we do not take care of ourselves, how can we care for others? If we truly believe all beings, including ourselves, share a divine light, how can we ignore working to remove obstacles to our health, well-being, contentment, and peace of mind. How can we ignore caring for what is a temple for that light?

I am grateful for the guidelines for behaving and living that yoga’s yamas and niyamas provide. And, I am very grateful for the awareness raised by my time in Japan. Cultivating an attitude of respect and reverence “in all things” supports my commitment to practice the ethical and personal practices of yoga and deepens the peace and joy of living each day.

For your consideration: What might your life look like if you consciously lived with an attitude of respect and reverence in all you did each day?

Individualized Yoga Practice – Summer Special

Get the results you want from Yoga and transform your life!

Yoga Promotes:
Physical strength, flexibility, increased lung capacity, reduced stress, freedom from self- defeating attitudes, and greater peace and joy.

How This Happens:
You need a teacher to design a practice that meets your specific needs, that can be done at home, that fits into your day, and that gives you the results you seek.

Where to Find:
The yoga I practice, train in, and teach adapts to the need of the individual no matter age or condition. I work with you to design a practice you can do on your own, empower you to continue with the practice, and make changes as we go along together.

2016 Summer Special

Offer Ends on Labor Day (Sep 5th)!

To set up appointment for your individualized yoga practice or for more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Terry, RYT-500
(717) 645-0067
eterryyoga@gmail.com

 

Breathe Smooth As Silk

Breathe Smooth As Silk

Breathe Smooth as Silk blog image

Unless we have a cold, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia or another condition that shortens our breath or makes it uncomfortable, we usually don’t think about it. Breathing just happens. Our body goes right on taking in air, sustaining our life, just as it did from the moment we emerged from our mother’s womb.

What makes our breathing apparatus so fascinating to me is that it is both involuntary and voluntary. Our body continues to breathe even when we pay no attention. Yet, we can change our breathing patterns in quite profound ways, if we choose.

Because the experience of stress is so ubiquitous in our culture, I encourage people to pay attention to how their breath responds when they feel stressed. Inevitably they will say their breath becomes shorter and sometimes irregular while their bodies tense and anxiety rises. When a waterfall of hormones initiates the flight or fight response, all aspects of our system react.

When we come to understand the concept of prana in yoga, we can understand why we pay such a high price for a stress-filled life, and, also, how the tools of yoga help to mitigate the effects of stress.

Prana is vital, life force energy; it functions in the most subtle aspects of our systems. “Prana… is responsible for all movement in the body and directly influences our physical, mental, and emotional health,” according to Nicolai Bachman in The Path of the Yoga Sutra. It is the means by which our mind influences the body, and the body the mind. Making sure prana can move freely and smoothly so our body feels stable and relaxed and our mind is calm is one reason we do yoga.

Our breath influences prana. That is how the breath influences the state of our mind. And, as our mind influences our breath, like when we are frightened or overwhelmed, prana is affected. When our breathing becomes irregular or shortened, our life force energy is interrupted or blocked.

The fourth limb of yoga, pranayama, is the conscious control and regulation of the breath. These breathing practices can help balance, slow, and smooth the breath, which affect prana, helping to calm the mind and relax the body. They can counteract the negative impact of stress if the practice is appropriate for our body, and we perform it consistently over time.

One caveat is the strong effect that pranayama can have on the breath and nervous system. Consequently, it is important to learn pranayama from an experienced teacher.

Saturday, February 20, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, I am offering a workshop entitled “Breath as a Path to Change: Exploring Pranayama.” If you would like to learn more about and experience pranayama, please join me for what I believe will be an engaging and enjoyable afternoon.

You can learn more about workshop by clicking here – Breath as a Path to Change: Exploring Pranayama – or register by visiting www.themovementcenter.net.

A Beautiful Garden

A Beautiful Garden

Art by the river

All of us have been touched by the acts of terrorism in the world, the shootings in our city, drug use and violence that reaches into all our neighborhoods. The images and vivid reporting of these events weigh heavily on the minds and emotions of many of us, creating fear, sadness, anger, and often despair.

Both last year and this year, I have designated the donations given by those participating in the Yoga for the Winter Solstice class I teach to go to the Harrisburg Peace Garden Foundation. It seems especially appropriate this year to make this contribution.

If you have walked along Riverfront Park north of Maclay Street, you are familiar with the Harrisburg Peace Garden. You have seen the beauty of its flowers, the inspiring words of world figures carved into the stones resting among the plantings, the poignant sculptures along the beautiful Susquehanna. The garden was created in 1990 by the Harrisburg/Hershey Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the City of Harrisburg. The Peace Garden Fund was established to make sure the garden is preserved and maintained for future generations. The garden truly is a living monument honoring our interconnectedness with nature, with other cultures, with one another, and with generations to come.

Visually it moves us away from the images and soundbites that can draw us toward hopelessness. Instead it garners our attention, moving our focus to its colors, textures, and messages, and renews a sense of faith that we can live in harmony with the earth, other nations, and one another. It assures us that as we have peaceful hearts we bring greater peace into the world.

Yoga teaches that when we are suffering, we need to move our focus away from what causes our discomfort and towards its opposite. The opposite of violence is peace. In the candlelight of our Yoga for the Winter Solstice class we have the opportunity to pause in the midst of the holiday season’s busyness and honor both the quiet aspect of the winter season and the lighter energy it promises will come. As we seek lives of harmony and peace through yoga practice, it also seems right to let the visual reminder of the Peace Garden stand as a metaphor for what we wish to bring into our hearts.

I invite you to join me for Yoga for the Winter Solstice on Wednesday, December 16 at 5:45 pm at TMC wellness through movement, 2134 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg.

Learn more about Harrisburg’s Peace Garden