Loveinvoke Blog


Leave a comment

Learning balance on the mat

Molly Chavers

Your practice isn’t one more obligation; it’s essential for sanity.

Blog by Molly  [Nonprofit ED; Pilates guru; Meridian Kessler-ite; Mama]

I like to wear lots of hats: mom, nonprofit executive director, wife, pet owner, volunteer, friend, daughter. And sometimes I get asked how I make time for one that is particularly meaningful to me — Pilates teacher.

I’ve been teaching Pilates at Invoke since 2007. In my time in the role, life has gotten more complicated (in a good way).

I’ve become a mom, and three years into this incredible job, I’m still trying to figure out where the hours go in the day. My child is exploring daily with her classmates, taking dance, and singing up a storm on her karaoke machine at home. For her, the days are long and full of fun to be had.

I work full time outside of the home, too. I haven’t mastered the leave-it-at-the-office style of work. We are a small staff. Work must be completed.

So why try to squeeze one more thing in the day?

For me, heading to my mat isn’t a luxury. It has become a necessity. On my best days, I can make it there. I count my lucky stars, too, because the end result is magical:

Clearer head. Sharper mind.

Taking time to make it to my mat – whether I’m at the front of the room instructing among my fellow students, or at home – helps me learn. Practicing reminds me of my strong, imperfect body. I am more aware of both the things that come easily and those poses that might need a little extra attention. A lot like real life, played out on a 24-by-72-inch space.

Like so many others, I’ve struggled with the way I’ve looked over the years. Yoga and Pilates has taught me that the way I feel about myself on the outside affects all other parts of me. When I feel strong and healthy, I exude strong and healthy. When I feel crummy…well, you get the picture.

We are constantly growing; each of us is striving to reach our full potential. For me, the journey begins on the mat but is often realized out in the real world. That is true in some way for everyone: making time to do things we love makes us better.

We feel more balanced. We tap into our true potential. We find clarity and presence.

Life is busy for everyone. There is never really a good time to make time for us.

But making time is essential if we are to be the best version of ourselves.  

Molly Chavers teaches Pilates at Invoke Studio and is Executive Director of IndyHub, a resource and place to learn and connect for Indy’s twenty- and thirty-somethings. She lives in Meridian Kessler with her husband, daughter and cat.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Tuning in to the “other side” of yoga

haehl picture

Yin offers a way to loosen the oft-neglected connective tissues

Blog by Laura  [Yogini, Spanish-language guru, lover of Yin]

In addition to the mental health benefits, many of us come to yoga class to reap the physical reward of working our muscles. We do this through what are known as Yang styles of yoga — Ashtanga and Vinyasa, for example.

But, as in other aspects of life, there’s always a Yin to complement the Yang. Yin yoga, which is growing in popularity in the U.S., allows us to work the deeper or yin connective tissues of our ligaments, joins, fascia and even our bones.

If you have never been to a Yin class before, you have practiced Yin poses in a Vinyasa class.  Child’s pose and Savasana, or final resting pose, are both yin-style poses.  You are also doing Yin yoga in that final juicy twist at the end of class.

In Yin, exercise is not multiple repetitions, but rather a long, steady and safe stress placed on the connective tissues to encourage them to release.  We stay in Yin poses for three to five minutes to exercise the connective tissue.  Yin poses target the hips, back and knees primarily.  We practice most Yin poses on the ground, allowing  gravity to take part in the practice.

What I love about Yin yoga is the space and freedom I feel in my body after a practice.  A regular yin practice has helped me find greater ease and deeper access to the poses of my vinyasa practice.  And I have found the stillness of the class to be challenging. Over time, it has taught me the value of sitting still and being mindful of my thoughts and the sensations in my body.

Many of the benefits of a yin practice are similar to the ones found in the more Yang styles of yoga.  Yin yoga is closely tied to the Chinese medicine system.  All poses affect different meridian lines, the energy lines in which needles are placed during acupuncture.  This pressure helps to nourish the organs associated with those lines.

Yin yoga also helps retrain the body.  If you sit for long periods of time during the day, your hip flexors engage and the lumbar curve in your low back usually bends opposite to its natural position.  In Yin yoga, we spend time in poses that open the front of the hips or allow the lumbar curve to stay in its natural position for extended periods.  In essence, we are retraining our body to do the opposite of what it experiences throughout the day.

Other Yin benefits include:

  • Increased mobility in the body, especially in the hips and joints

  • More ease and flexibility in the connective tissues

  • Improved health and responses in the cells of the body

  • Improved blood pressure and lower heart rate

  • Reduced fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system)

  • Improved digestion and immune system

  • Lessened inflammation

I teach a weekly Yin Yoga class at Invoke on Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the 86th & Ditch location and a monthly Yin + Yoga Nidra workshop.  February’s workshop is Sunday the 23rd at 6:30p.m. and will focus on the chakras.  You can get an early bird discount for $15 up through the 16th.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Please be aware that Yin Yoga is different from a restorative yoga practice.  Just like with your more active styles of yoga, if you have an injury, you should allow that to heal before putting more stress on it in a yin practice.

Haehl is a yoga instructor who teaches at Invoke Studio. While she’s great at breaking down the basics, she’s also known to teach some challenging flows.