Beyond Repetition

When I am feeling stuck in my mind and in the physical world I find it helpful to offer myself a pattern interruption by practicing doing things with my non-dominant side. Movement meditations like postural yoga and snowboarding are great for this.

With yoga, postures are typically practiced back and forth, stimulating and developing agility on both sides of the body, balancing out the dominance of either side. This can increase and reorganize the potential ways we habitually act and respond to circumstance. Instead of always repeating the pattern in one direction, we can move through it in the other direction too, adapting our prior experience to fit the specifics of the new situation.

It is beyond just being the opposite, as we are not fully symmetrical. In many ways the second side is like learning a separate yet related thing.

While snowboarding tends to be a one-sided activity, we can bring in this balancing, like a yoga practice, by switching back and forth which foot we have forward. At first the non-dominant side feels awkward, as we’’re doing something familiar but in a different way. Which potentially makes it feel even harder at moments then if we didn’t already know how to do it before, because we are expecting it to be the same.

It can take a bit of unhooking ourselves from trying to recreate the same experience on the second side, for although we already know how to do it on the dominant side, the second side has its own variables. When I let go of trying to make it the same, I can learn about what it actually is, and respond to that.

This can be practiced with any typically one sided activity, or any activity at all.

As we break our attachments to the familiar, creating a pattern interruption in the momentum of habitual repetition, we can learn to sense the nuances of each situation we encounter. Each moment informed yet not defined by our experiences of the past.

Just Enough and Not Too Much

I am generally not into slogans, although there is a Buddhist one I have heard that I think of a lot – just enough and not too much. It is kind of a Goldilocks approach to life 🙂
Practicing yoga helps me experiment with this balance on a physical, experiential level, balancing how much weight forward, how much back, where do I lift from, where do I contract, when I shift one aspect of the posture how does that affect the rest, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of it is mental, I remember the ways I have played with the posture before and cues other teachers and students have suggested to me, yet it is not only a mental thinking it out. It includes body memory and develops an awareness beyond just the thinking of the mind, beyond just the discursive thought or continuous defining of the mind, it becomes a direct felt experience of the balance that integrates and grows with me.
I am also finding this true with my experience of the continuous learning curve of skiing and snowboarding, dynamic practices of the subtleties of the shifts of weight and posture responding to the shape of the skis or board, the texture of the snow and the contours of the mountain. The practice of yoga does help support the sport in that it can be cross training to warm up and bring awareness into the body and center the mind before going on the mountain and decompressing to unwind tension, reduce soreness and recovery time and prepare the body for the next day. Yet there is also potential for utilizing yoga to refine sensitivity to the effects of stance and the subtle shift of weight in any posture and especially in ones that directly inform the body of movements used in skiing and riding, teaching our bodies how to efficiently perform these movements and giving ourself practice both on and off the hill. Perhaps beginning with mental inquiry and developing into experiential wisdom.
When I ski and ride it is very much a physical yoga practice in that I start with a variety of cues in myself that gradually build – just enough and not too much, a little bit of this and a little bit of that – until it all flows together and I am not thinking out the skiing, all my awarenesses are coming together and the skiing is happening right through me. It is kind of a sahaja approach to life, the sahaja the purely spontaneous being who has trained their body and mind to instead of compulsively react to phenomena, appropriately respond to the specifics of each situation. In the case of your sport or your art this plays out as learning and practicing the form first so then the creativity can unfold and grow through that structure. If you never learned some of the building blocks, through a teacher and/or your own mindful practice, in snowsports you’d likely just fall down the hill. Yet with practice and experiential awareness of your posture, how to read the terrain and the conditions and how subtle shifts of weight drive the edges of your equipment, the falling down the hill can become a graceful and efficient dance of balance. Just enough and not too much.
This is what I am currently into 🙂 If you’d like to play with me with it come to The Mountain Club on Loon at Loon Mountain Resort on Sunday March 13, 2016 for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation 3/13/16 or be in touch and we can do a private with snowsports or just physical yoga – and develop a practice to support whatever sport or art you are currently into.
Love

The Sacred Geometry of Asana – Finding the Balance Point: Beginner/Intermediate Partner, Acro and Thai Yoga Workshop @At Om Yoga

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The Sacred Geometry of Asana – Finding the Balance Point:
Beginner/Intermediate Partner, Acro and Thai Yoga Workshop
At Om Yoga
40 North Main Street, Concord NH
May 16, 2015 1~4pm

~ get tickets ~

In this workshop we will utilize asana/postural yoga to explore the balance point between opposing forces ~ right and left, front and back, leverage and lifting, expansion and compression, inhale and exhale, self and “other” ~ to find the place of suspension that holds both extremes, balanced at the center.

We will warm-up with individual postures and flowing vinyasa (movement linked to the rhythm of breath), bringing subtle awareness into the intersecting planes of the grid of our own body geometry and activating an intuitive alignment where the posture supports itself and active effort can relax. We will then expand into partner and group postures, respectfully articulating self-supporting, counterbalanced geometric shapes with each other. Each of us part of the whole, and whole and complete in ourselves.

Attuning to the balance point, the stillness in the movement, silence behind the sound, turiya ~ the underlying pure aware consciousness at peace in the midst of everything ~ cultivates our capacity to find this space, to remember this potential, anytime we want it, or need it. And pass it on.

Come with or without a partner. Nothing is required, and there are many very simple variations to suit everyone. Yoga is all inclusive.

Denise Porter Kemp has been teaching yoga since 2005 and as has studied with many teachers and students along the way, including receiving a 500 hour certification from At Om Yoga and Asa Dustin in 2007, a 200 hour certification with River Yoga and Parvati Nanda Nath Saraswati in 2010 and has completed level 1 Thai Yoga Therapy training with Still Light Yoga and Shai Plonski. She brings her traveling yoga school ~ Turiya Yoga ~ to private homes, ski mountains, music festivals and yoga studios along the east coast. Her strength is making the practice accessible to the uniqueness of every body while expressing the deeper teachings of yoga through the experiential practice of the physical form.

~ body geometry, pure aware consciousness ~

shift

snowbanks contract
in the relatively sweltering
early springlike temperatures
of this late winter thaw
squeezing out the juice of life
to the cold and softening earth below
where crocuses and daffodils
lie dormantly in dreaming
of days when they uncurl from sleep
and unfurl through the surface
offering their tendrilous light
right up into the sun

Snowsports Specific Yoga Retreats

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Mindful dynamic vinyasa yoga and core awakening postures inside at The Mountain Club on Loon before a half day on the mountain at Loon Mountain Resort followed by indoor targeted stretching and decompression to reduce soreness and as a sort of savasana for the day. In the past we have incorporated partner, acro and Thai yoga into both sides of this, which we can do again as interest allows.
You are welcome to ride the mountain with me where we can utilize snowsports as a movement meditation in itself AND practice postures right in our boots or equipment that release tension, build strength and increase effortless balance, and/or take some time to ski or ride on your own as much as you like.
Everything is optional 🙂
I know its cold. Come play outside, it makes winter more fun ❤

Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation Retreats

Balance upsidedown ~ Inversion Workshop

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Balance upsidedown
March 3 The River School House Yarmouth, ME
April 1 Insight Therapeutic Massage Concord, NH
6-8:30pm
$30

Buy tickets for Maine
Buy tickets for New Hampshire

Don’t let the image intimidate you. It is meant to be visual art 🙂

The art of balance is something that can be learned, cultivated, honed ~ by becoming familiar with the subtlety of the balance point, the place where the pairs of opposites come into alignment and effort can relax as the posture supports itself. We do this effortlessly all the time standing on our feet, the trick is to be able to access that awareness and find the balance when things get turned upsidedown.

In this workshop we will warm-up with fluid vinyasa (flow yoga in rhythm with the breath), standing balance postures to access the balance point in stillness and movement and utilize various held postures to prepare the body for inversions and then experiment with:

~ standing forward bends as inversions (as well as access points to lift into inversions)
~ setting up a stable base for a shoulder stand (including the use of props and variations)
~ setting up the base for headstand along with many variations and methods for lifting into the full pose
~ forearm stands and variations
~ partner, group, wall and freestanding handstand warmups, practice and variations

You can try as much or as little as you like and there will be possibilities for everyone, beginner to advanced. Great for teachers too – learn new ways to teach these often challenging postures in a way that makes them more accessible as well as get to play with how you engage with balance in your own practice.

Denise Porter Kemp has been teaching yoga since 2005 and has studied with many teachers and students along the way. She brings her traveling yoga school ~ Turiya Yoga ~ to private homes, ski mountains, music festivals and yoga studios along the east coast. Her strength is making the practice accessible to the uniqueness of every body while expressing the deeper teachings of yoga through the experiential practice of the physical form.

~ body geometry, pure aware consciousness ~

The Sacred geometry of Asana: Finding the Balance Point

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The Sacred geometry of Asana:
Finding the Balance Point
Beginner/Intermediate Partner, Acro and Thai Yoga Workshop

Feb. 3 River School House Yarmouth, ME
Feb. 11 Insight Therapeutic Massage Concord, NH
6-8:30pm
$30
Tickets for Maine
Tickets for New Hampshire

In this workshop we will utilize asana/postural yoga to explore the balance point between opposing forces ~ right and left, front and back, leverage and lifting, expansion and compression, inhale and exhale, self and “other” ~ to find the place of suspension that holds both extremes, balanced at the center.

We will warm-up with individual postures and flowing vinyasa (movement linked to the rhythm of breath), bringing subtle awareness into the intersecting planes of the grid of our own body geometry and activating an intuitive alignment where the posture supports itself and active effort can relax. We will then expand into partner and group postures, respectfully articulating self-supporting, counterbalanced geometric shapes with each other. Each of us part of the whole, and whole and complete in ourselves.

Attuning to the balance point, the stillness in the movement, silence behind the sound, turiya ~ the underlying pure aware consciousness at peace in the midst of everything ~ cultivates our capacity to find this space, to remember this potential, anytime we want it, or need it. And pass it on.

Come with or without a partner. Nothing is required, and there are many very simple variations to suit everyone. Yoga is all inclusive.

Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation Retreats 2015

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January 11, February 8 and March 15  9am – 5:30pm
The Mountain Club on Loon and Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, NH
for more information 603-568-5977 or deniseporterkemp@gmail.com
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Buy tickets for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation
Physical yoga is a mindfulness movement meditation, helping develop the capacity to recall effortless presence at will. On these one-day retreats we will utilize yoga both as a physical tune-up for snowsports and as a way to recognize the potential of mindfulness meditation in all our activities. Physical yoga is one way of experiencing the teachings of yoga, so that we can bring these teachings into the rest of our lives.
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We will begin with a morning pre-snowsports specific yoga practice to bring mobility to the joints and warm the muscles, activate effortless core strength and find our center of gravity and balance. By becoming present in the body, we also become aware with the body.
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After lunch, we head onto the mountain for a half day of snowsports, utilizing the physical practice of skiing or riding in the same way we could utilize the physical yoga practice – to intentionally and sometimes even methodically bring awareness into what we are doing while we are doing it. Once we have trained our mind and body to be focused and conscious, we can let go of some of the active effort, riding the mountain by responding to gravity and the contours of the land.
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I also have many possibilities for yoga in boots and right in skis and snowboards which I am happy to share with anyone interested, although no one is required to practice the yoga on snow! You are also welcome to ski or ride on your own at any time.
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After the lifts close, we return to the sanctuary of The Mountain Club to decompress with apres-ski specific yoga, holding longer postures to release tension and prepare the body for the next day with less soreness and fatigue.
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I will not be teaching snowsports per-se, participants need to be able to comfortably ski or ride blue runs. On each run I will offer subtle cues as focus points, and we can share our own tricks and methods with each other. You are welcome to ski with the group, and at any point, take some time on your own. I will share the way I utilize the practice of yoga to enhance my snowsports experience, to assist you in finding a practice that supports your own.
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There are three separate retreats ~ January 11, February 8 and March 15 ~ come to one or as many as time and interest allows. Space is limited and you need to pre-register to hold your spot.
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$100 each retreat, includes half-day lift ticket
$75 each, with your own lift ticket
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posts about snowsports and yoga…
Basic Snow Yoga
Sun Salutation On a Snowboard
Sun Salutation in Skis
One Foot Strapped in Snowboard Yoga
Dynamic Lunge Sequence for Before Snowsports
Meditative Hip Opening Apres-ski Video
…poems and other writings about snowsports…

catalyst

For me, snowboarding is physical yoga practice, asana ~ moving meditation, becoming comfortable and articulate in my body and in relation with the physical world. As I ride I gradually tune in to the subtleties of my movement, awakening presence in my entire body. I don’t have to try so much anymore, it just starts to happen. The movement becomes efficient, somewhat effortless. Grounded in my body, I become aware not only of my body, but with my body ~ my movement responding to the contours of the mountain, the crisp scent of the air and the temperature on my skin, the sounds of my board against the texture of the snow and the wind all around me. Everything becomes more vibrant. There’s nowhere to go and nothing else to do but to be right here, completely open to the moment. It refreshes me, brings me back to center.
I used to get pretty sad at the end of the season, as I thought I depended on this activity to do all this for me. Without it I would feel flat, empty, dull…or so I feared. Through time I realize that these activities that have the potential to revitalize us and bring us spontaneously into the moment remind us that this is possible. We don’t have to become attached to the catalyst, there are many ways to do it. Breathe in, feel yourself in your entire body. Hear the sounds. Right now.
I will miss you, my beloved mountain, my mermaid~tail serpentine snow dance. Another season has come and is passing and I have again learned so much from you.
Until the next time we meet dear friend, the love I tap into when I’m with you lives inside of me.
(yeah, yeah I know kinda sappy. And I mean it  🙂 )

loony 017

Vernal Equinox Yoga and Snowshoe Meditation Retreat in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

The word yoga has the same root as yoke, meaning the yoking together of polar opposites as two sides of the same thing. Holding both extremes and the continuum between, balanced at the center.

The vernal, or spring, equinox, balanced precisely between the Winter and Summer Solstices, is typically the turning point weather wise as we begin to experience the effects of the shifting, as daylight becomes equal to nighttime and the still and silent winter woods are being balanced by the warmth and awakening of spring melt.

Come experience the extremes simultaneously on this pinnacle day, balanced right at the center. The winter woodlands opening up with a celebration of the sounds and signs of spring.

http://deniseporterkemp.com/events–snowshoe.html