Trainings & Workshops

Handstanding Workshop: Prep and Play

-Strengthen the areas that you need to safely walk up a wall.

-Develop the confidence to kick and jump your way up.

-Turn your kicking and jumping into floating (there’s your core!).

-Play with creative variations while you’re upside down!

Work at one, two, or all of these as you build confidence, strength, and mobility!

In person (limited spaces)

Oct 2, 2021, 1:00pm-2:15pm

Chagrin Yoga, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Yoga Basics Workshop: Four Sessions for Brand-New Beginners

Are you or someone you know yoga-curious? Now’s your chance. We start from scratch. Breathing, postures, transitions, meditation. Four Saturday sessions prepare you for drop-in classes or home practice!

In person (limited spaces).

Three series for you to choose from (or gift to someone who needs to move and breathe):

Fall Series: Oct 30, Nov 6, Nov 13, Nov 20, 1:00pm-2:15pm

Winter Series: Jan 22, Jan 29, Feb 11, Feb 19, 1:00pm-2:15pm

Spring Series: Apr 2, Apr 9, Apr 23, Apr 30, 1:00pm-2:15pm

Chagrin Yoga, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Four Strategies for Yoga Teachers and Students Advancing Their Practice: Work Backwards, Work Forwards, Work from the Inside Out, and Work from the Outside In

Register for one or all sessions. Details on Day Yoga website!

Livestream or in person (limited spaces).

October 9-10, 2021

Day Yoga, Dayton, Ohio

Teacher Training for Barre, Pilates, Yoga, and Strength Fusion Classes: Whole Body Core

Two full days of tapping into your potential! Teachers of yoga or any movement discipline are welcome to expand their offerings with targeted moves from Pilates, strength training, ballet, jazz, and modern dance. Learn ways to regress and progress your sequences to reach students at all levels within one class and take them on a full body and mind journey every time they practice with you!

Livestream or in person (limited spaces).

October 23-24, 2021

Day Yoga, Dayton, Ohio

Why Blend the Approaches of Pilates, Strength Training, Dance, and Yoga in "Fusion" Classes (Like Barre, YogaPilates, and Yoga Strength)?

Even at first glance, you’ll notice that each of these approaches bring certain benefits and advantages to the table that the others don’t.

Yoga offers:

  1. static positions (approached with eccentric engagement of specific muscles and held with isometric engagement) to create a feeling of “active stretching” and increase mobility.
  2. slow, dynamic movements initiated by slow, controlled breathing through the nose.
  3. an emphasis on developing balance (standing on one leg, balancing on one side lying down, and other positions), which modern environments neglect.
  4. a focus on becoming more aware of internal states and processes (rather than being goal-centered or performance-centered).

Pilates offers:

  1. dynamic movements with a focus on controlling and isolating specific muscular areas to strengthen them.
  2. moderately paced movements initiated by empowered (thoracic-diaphragmatic) inhalations through the nose and vigorous and sometimes percussive (assisted by the pelvic floor and deep abdominals) exhalations (through the nose or mouth).
  3. an emphasis on strengthening “core” muscles of the pelvis and trunk, which modern furniture and technologies tend to weaken.

Dance offers:

  1. nonlinear, dynamic movements that provide a sense of freedom and improvisation.
  2. overlap with functional movements, such as getting up and down off the floor, reaching for objects that are high up and diagonal, and turning around, which require moving through several different planes at once.

Strength Training offers:

  1. an established method of using regression principles to make low-impact movements approachable to all students, regardless of level of experience, strength, or mobility.
  2. an established method of using progression principles to increase strength in specific muscle groups in goal-oriented and measurable ways.

How and Why We Do Things Matters

Pilates is famous for the principles outlined by Joseph Pilates in Return to Life through Contrology (1945). He labeled these six principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. Pilates’ emphasis throughout the book, which continues through much of his teaching lineage to this day, is on the mind controlling the body. His six principles were ways to establish, in his words, “mind control over muscles” (p. 6). Given the field of physiology at the time he was developing his ideas in the early 1900s, it’s remarkable that Pilates emphasized that learning to engage the muscles in specific ways can improve brain function, helping individuals think and feel better in more than just physical ways.

However, Pilates focused on training the muscles through mental concentration and will. In his system, reason and cognitive control should be the drivers of the bodily vehicle. He writes that “IDEALLY, OUR MUSCLES SHOULD OBEY OUR WILL. REASONABLY, OUR WILL SHOULD NOT BE DOMINATED BY THE REFLEX ACTIONS OF OUR MUSCLES” (his all caps, p. 6).

However, yoga, which is one of the many physical culture approaches Pilates drew from in creating his mat and machine exercises, tends to have a different view of the mind-body relationship. Yoga does not understand the mind/body relationship as a one-way flow of information from mind to body that can be consciously willed. The muscles, bones, organs, fascia, skin, and neurons—all the cells and tissues of the body—these are interrelated in ways we can explore through a physical practice of movements, postures, and breaths.

Allow Any Movement to Become a Question—an Exploration

The yogic model does not ask us to envision just a top-down flow of information. Yoga practice is not a process of the brain and spinal cord simply gaining authority over the muscles and bones. Instead, the communication and connection that we establish in a yoga practice is multi-directional. Our nervous systems become re-attuned to notice the musculoskeletal system and all the other systems. The mind learns from and listens to the body. The body does not have to become a servant of the mind or “will.”

On the simplest level, we can describe this as two stages:

1. We move into a position. Here we engage and relax muscles to align the bones in specific, precise ways. (This is the part that Pilates emphasizes.)

2. We observe what’s happening throughout the body and mind. Here we are listening rather than doing we become a witness to the sensations in the body’s tissues, the emotions, and the thoughts that bubble up. You can see how the static “holds” of yoga postures are designed to facilitate this second stage. Pilates exercises and strength training are not—they rarely “hold” a position, preferring to move in and out of two or more positions repeatedly.

Of course, these stages are not actually separate. The process of ‘doing’ and ‘observing’ is constantly overlapping and multifaceted. Actions and awarenesses bounce off each other and intermingle. We might picture this, as practitioners, as a dance between the various cells and tissues communicating—the nervous system both learns from and teaches the musculoskeletal system. Or we might picture this as our internal witness (our mind, our spirit, our will, whatever label you like for that layer of the self that can be aware of the other layers of thoughts and emotions and drives, but which might not be the exact same thing as the “brain and spinal cord”) both learning from and teaching the physical body (which is another set of layers of sensations, some of which dominate in any given position and moment, and might be considered to include the brain and spinal cord, as well as the muscles and bones).

You can slice it and dice it any way you like when you’re analyzing it. In the yogic model, it’s never accurately described as two separate things at all. It’s always “not-two” (advaita, in Sanskrit), even though, for the sake of describing it, we often chop it up.

Some days there’s quite a cacophony in this democratic model of our process. It seems like way more than two elements—many layers of body and many layers of mind are in play. On those days, we might devote more time and space to observing. If we focus too much on doing, we may wind up steamrolling over all the stuff that is coming up for us to observe.

Which brings us to consider an earlier stage in this process of moving and stilling the body-mind.

What happens before we can consciously control the body into a yoga posture or a Pilates movement or weightlifting exercise? Those moments when we try to do something, and we realize we can’t do it (yet)? Or the moment we try to do something, and we think we’re doing it, but a teacher comes along and points out that maybe not all the key actions are happening exactly as we think they are?

What’s happening in those moments?

Habits. Default settings. The way we usually move or still ourselves. That’s what’s happening.

Yoga and Pilates both offer us the opportunity, as we begin to move, to observe from the very beginning how we are doing things. How we are moving. How we are holding still. Our default settings for the mind-body. We can bring this awareness into all movement when we wish, including lifting weights, dancing, and doing everyday tasks.

Refine Our Curiosity Further

So, to revisit our stages in the process, let’s allow for more detail and consider the role of our habits in all this:

1a. We begin to move into a position. We attempt to engage and relax the muscles to align the bones in specific, precise ways. Sometimes we observe right here, at the get-go, that our stuff is not going where we ask it to. Sometimes we need a mirror, or a wall, or a prop, or a teacher, to open our eyes to the fact that our stuff is not going where we ask it to! (“Stuff” includes legs, core, thoughts, joints, attitudes, and anything else.)

1b. We negotiate with the position or movement. What do we need to do to make sure we do no harm? Where can we watch our habits of overengagement or disengagement continue? Where can we let those go? Where do we want to cultivate new options to work toward our intended posture or movement? How do we adapt, prop, slow down, or otherwise change the posture or movement in order to put effort into creating new options for ourselves, without forcing? We move into that negotiated version. We don’t assume that what comes up will be the same every time—there’s no such thing as “mastering” a posture or an exercise. Instead, the postures and exercises are tools for exploring what’s happening here and now, which is always different from the last time we practiced.

2. We observe what’s happening throughout the body-mind. Here we are listening while we are doing—we become a witness to the sensations, the emotions, and the thoughts. We might sometimes observe a little more and at other times do a little more. We know that “progress” is not linear and there is no mastery, but we also know that we can go beyond repetition of what we’ve done before (to maintain the body-mind) and explore progressions of movement and stillness to continually challenge the body-mind in new ways. Ways to challenge ourselves include gradually increasing mobility, strength, and balance, for sure, but they also include complexity, coordination, confidence, equanimity, contentment, and a host of other skills and qualities.

Notice, however, that this is still a game of give-and-take. We’re not “correcting” our habits, as so many terms ("Corrective Exercises") would have us believe. We’re not even just “controlling” our bodies, as Pilates would have it, although that’s certainly a part of what we’re learning. We’re not always “progressing,” as strength training would suggest with its terminology. We are not “performing” for any current or future audience, as a dance approach might assume.

We’re opening up new options. Options for movement, stillness, thinking, and feeling. Gradually.

We’re also learning from our old habits. We currently breathe, walk, stand, hold Warrior 1 in yoga, move through a Pilates Roll-Up, and lift heavy things the way we do because at some point, those ways of moving and stilling the body were solutions to a problem. Now we can observe more carefully: How do we engage and relax as we are asked to hold Warrior 1 or Roll-Up? How do we respond inside? Why do we have the default settings of engaging and relaxing our muscles as we do? Why do we have the default settings of certain emotional and cognitive responses as we do?

We may, in fact, choose to keep some of those habits. We will probably find some of them to be quite functional and healthy.

Others we will choose to release, and we will do so quickly and easily. When someone opens our eyes to how much our thighs can rotate internally and externally, we might soon rarely default to a habitual rotation as we practice because choosing rotation options becomes a pleasurable ability we’ve always had but never noticed before.

Still other habits we may realize have come about because of situations that we can now change. Releasing tension across the chest and shoulders may be as simple as changing our desk ergonomics or as long-term and complex as changing our career. Still, if we are willing and able to change our situation (the problem), the habit (the old “solution”) can melt away.

And then there are the habits that have accrued over many years because of situations that are difficult to adjust. Those we work on gently, gradually. Think of a shoulder or knee that has reduced its range of motion over years of osteoarthritis, brought about by the confluence of genetics and repetitive overuse in positions that caused inflammation and unnecessary wear. We can observe the habit (one solution to the problem of pain over time was to reduce the range of motion), explore the pain-free options other than the old habit, and gradually expand upon those in various ways. Maybe we expand range of motion, but maybe instead we increase strength right at the ends of the existing ranges of motion. Or maybe we increase mobility and strength at other joints nearby to see what effects that has.

All of this is facilitated by melding the mindfulness and awareness practices of yoga with approaches that strengthen and specific areas, as Pilates and strength training do. You might still ask: Why include dance sometimes? Dance provides nonlinear moves to isolate and combine and improvise that provide their own therapeutic and functional advantages—and dance loosens it all up a little so we can have some fun as we do all this.

Each teacher will blend the movement and stillness traditions s/he studies in a unique way. These blends can expand our students’ ranges exponentially. 

If you're interested in a teacher training that enables you to blend traditions, look into Whole Body Core Teacher Training. It's available fully online or in person in Dayton, Ohio. Check Day Yoga's website for details. Coming soon to Chagrin Yoga in Chagrin Falls, Ohio!