Category: Yoga + Wellness Inspo

Not My Job

Traditionally, we each had one primary physician: the person we depended on to have all the answers about our bodies and to “fix us” if we got sick or injured. This person often knew us from the time we were born and could be relied upon to intimately know our health history. In many ways, they could be looked to for a “fix” when things went wrong.

While our modern lifestyle and cultural shifts have made that type of old school medical care obsolete, many of us still operate from that mindset. We expect our General Physician to have all the answers, to know our bodies better than we do, and to take charge of our health.

Unfortunately, that model doesn’t work – and it’s unfair to both us and our doctor (or yoga instructor or massage therapist or personal trainer).

They can’t know our health history the way physicians of the past could; they simply have too much red tape, and pressure from payers, in the practice of modern medicine. Also, it’s not their responsibility to know what’s going on with us or to fix us when something’s off. No one can know our bodies the way we can, and to expect someone else to take charge of our health in that way is disempowering to us!

Ideally, health care is a collaboration, in which our innate wisdom of what we’re experiencing is met with their expertise. Most of us aren’t doctors, but showing up for medical care with basic knowledge about our bodies and mindfulness about what we’re experiencing fosters better care. It makes their job easier and empowers us to take charge our health & wellness journeys.

Hopefully, we will live much longer than the generations before us, but that also means that we have a greater responsibility to take care of all our parts. If we’re asking them to function – and function well! – for a longer period of time, it’s up to us to practice good maintenance. We don’t expect cars to run well for decades without significant investments of time, attention, and care for all their systems & parts – no matter how well they’re made! 😉

One simple way to do this for our bodies is Yoga Teacher Training. YTT empowers us with basic knowledge of the body’s systems, parts, and functions. It helps us understand how it all works together – and provides accessible, realistic practices to keep ourselves healthy for the long haul.

Pain and injuries are an inevitable reality for most of us, especially if we’re active, over the course of our lives. The knowledge you gain from Yoga Teacher Training will not only empower you to prevent pain; it will also help you understand what happened – and address injuries if / when they occur.

No one else can take care of your health but you. No one else can fix you. We’ve got one in-person spot left in the 2021 YTT program. Claim it, and learn how to more fully inhabit – and take optimal care of – this amazing body you’ve been given!

For program details, click here – or email us here with specific questions.

 

Leigh-Ann Renz

Leigh-Ann Renz

Leigh-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2005. She is attracted to fluid vinyasa styles, including moon salutations, and loves to geek out about yoga “off the mat” – such as how the philosophies behind the physical postures can enrich our journey, both for ourselves and for others. She is honored to co-teach the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Waynesville Yoga Center, and loves facilitating healing services to the community. A writer, dancer, massage therapist, creative marketing nerd, and proud Mom, she can be found travelling, enjoying the rhythm of the seasons, or soaking up the natural world when not working.

It Takes a Toll

First, there was the regular stress of our modern lifestyle: go-go-go, a million places to be at once, and a million things to accomplish at the same time. Most of us were already uber stressed out, trying to maintain overly full schedules and overly ambitious to-do lists. Then COVID hit, bringing with it waves of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and strife.

A massive financial crisis; violent protests across the nation; a hyper divisive election season; and now another round of holidays, all while still dealing with the aforementioned crises. Whew. As my stepmother says “We’re all breathing the same air”, meaning that we’re all intimately connected and affect one another, whether we choose to recognize that or not.

Even if 2020 has brought blessings and needed change, we are biologically impacted by the suffering of those around us. It’s like how trees affect one another: we can’t escape it, even if we’re in a great space. And many of us are directly in the midst of suffering ourselves.

It’s a lot, and that stress, anxiety, and depression does a number on our bodies – and our minds!

Yes, practicing yoga can help with these challenges; but Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) can teach you how yoga helps. It explains the “science behind the magic” and gives you an enhanced ability to utilize these tools by understanding how they work; when to apply them; and how to maximize their impact.

YTT allows you to not just feel better in the moment yourself – it gives you the ability to make other people feel better, and to help them too. Even if you’re not teaching, you’ll naturally share your new found knowledge with your family, friends, and circles, meaning that the positive impacts of your yoga will extend far beyond your own mat.

In addition, you’ll experience yoga more deeply for yourself. Even if only for your own stress management and wellbeing, YTT empowers you to go far beyond just taking classes into having greater control over your health journey. You’ll learn how to better take care of your body and support it during times of stress, whether that’s the everyday intensity of our post-COVID lives… or getting through the rest of 2020 and all that it has brought to our doorsteps!

We’ve got one more spot left in the middle price tier – and a few more virtual spaces open for our 2021 program. Click here for more details about the program, or email us with specific questions: ytt@waynesvilleyogacenter.com

 

Leigh-Ann Renz

Leigh-Ann Renz

Leigh-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2005. She is attracted to fluid vinyasa styles, including moon salutations, and loves to geek out about yoga “off the mat” – such as how the philosophies behind the physical postures can enrich our journey, both for ourselves and for others. She is honored to co-teach the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Waynesville Yoga Center, and loves facilitating healing services to the community. A writer, dancer, massage therapist, creative marketing nerd, and proud Mom, she can be found travelling, enjoying the rhythm of the seasons, or soaking up the natural world when not working.

 

We Can’t Control the World, but We Can Control Ourselves

(if we’re lucky…)

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are not in control; the illusions we construct to convince ourselves otherwise are just that; and our attempts to maintain control can cause a lot of suffering. The acceptance of uncertainty is a crucial part of evolution as humans – and as much as it sucks, it’s necessary for growth & inner peace.

The empowering thing is that, if we’re lucky, we can control ourselves. Those of us who have experienced deep suffering understand that even self-control is illusory! There are levels of pain that can strip us to the mercy of our experience, to pure survival, in which we cannot control our circumstances or even our response to them.

And some of us have experienced firsthand that what we think is our nature & character is also volatile! What we have always been able to rely on as our inner constructs are just that: constructs, that can be altered – totally out of our control – by hormones, chemicals, and physical vulnerabilities.

With so much vulnerability and uncertainty, how can we find safety & comfort? As the world around us shakes, where do we find our inner peace?

One way to both face the frightening reality of not having control – and gain more control & clarity within ourselves – is Yoga! In Yoga, we practice not knowing what’s coming next… and leaning into that uncertainty.

We learn how to keep our balance when we’re shaky, and how to keep our breath smooth & steady as we’re being challenged. We become adept at staying cool in the midst of fire.

Yoga helps us face parts of ourselves we may not like and sit in the discomfort of our own minds. We practice finding stillness in the noise, calm in the storm, and being ok with quiet.

Yoga empowers us to realize that we actually don’t need constant distraction to busy our minds. That we are enough, just as we are; and that as we develop a better relationship with ourselves, we’re better able to navigate the world around us.

Learn how you can put Yoga to work more powerfully, deeply, and richly than just taking classes. By investing in Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), you’re not just gaining a certificate (and the skills to back it up) to teach. You’re committing to a journey of self-exploration and evolution that can change the world – by changing yourself.

YTT will teach you how Yoga is so much more than just creating shapes with the body – and give you the background knowledge to see how it can transform lives. It will give you a better understanding of how we all tick, and how we can be our best selves in this crazy world.

We can’t control external circumstances, but we can hope to control our responses to them, especially with the tool of Yoga under our belts. Join us to understand how this all works, and how you can integrate this knowledge.

Click here for program details – or email ytt@waynesvilleyogcenter for specific questions.

What is a Medicine vs. Dessert Philosophy and How Does it Apply to Yoga?

What is a Medicine vs. Dessert Philosophy and How Does it Apply to Yoga?

Medicine: On the face of it, medicine can literally leave a bad taste in our mouths even when we know we need to take it. But medicine also saves lives and enhances every day living for many despite the belief that living a medicine free life is the ultimate goal. Living our best lives should be our ultimate goal and if medicine helps us do that then why not embrace it even if it does not taste so awesome?

This philosophy applies to yoga when we avoid certain poses, class styles, and teachers because they make us uncomfortable or we avoid what is difficult / challenges us and our egos. In fact, usually what we tend to steer away from is what we need the most because it is hard for us. 

Too much of anything is not a good thing so being aware of patterns of self abuse and self punishment is important when it comes to the right dosage of medicine in our yoga (constantly forcing our bodies into overworking and not balancing this with self care and recovery days is not healthy and unsustainable in the long run).

 If one side of unhealthy balance is constantly pushing too hard then the other side of this coin is always taking the easiest and most familiar approach to our yoga practice. We tend to be attracted to what we are good at and what makes us feel successful in most areas of our lives as our egos can demand and direct this.

 

Dessert: At a glance, this seems like an obvious choice over medicine because who doesn’t want dessert over medicine? Think of your favorite sweet treat and how you feel after savoring that first bite of yummy goodness! Even desserts can get a bad rap as it seems sugar is the new evil ingredient we must avoid at all costs, which only makes it that much more attractive and addictive. Moderation, as in most things, is the key here- dessert is not bad. We should take the time to savor the taste and flavor of each bite with intention and purpose so we are not stuffing our faces and eating our feelings.

This applies to our yoga practice when we binge to excess only on the classes that give us that sugar high and rush of endorphins. We crave the classes that taste yummy and make us feel secure in our talents and gifts while avoiding the classes that make us feel awkward, insecure and irritable. This is our nature dictated by the ego and the fluctuations of our monkey minds.

Finding Balance: Awareness of this push and pull in our minds and bodies is a huge part of bringing balance and clarity to our yoga practice. This philosophy can be applied to every pose, every class and everyday life choices. One is not better that the other so the approach should be that moderation and intention are the antidote to excess and injury! The real question is: What does my body truly need today? What does my spirit truly need today? What does my mind truly need today?

Wait, Yoga Can Help Me Lose Weight?!

“I thought it was just a bunch of easy stretches and rolling around on floor…?”

Most of us know that practicing Yoga can be a great way to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and feel more calm and focused. But did you know that Yoga can also help you lose weight?!

Granted, it depends on which type of Yoga: a gentle class focused on stretching will clearly burn less Calories than a more vigorous style. But all types of Yoga can benefit those looking to lose weight, and one study even showed that easy peasy Restorative Yoga is effective in helping overweight women to lose weight, including abdominal fat!

How Can Yoga Help You Meet Your New Years Resolutions?

// Yoga helps you be more present in your body, and therefore better connected to your natural cues of hunger and fullness. Its calming effects on the nervous system make you less likely to binge or stress eat; and its detoxification effect on the kidneys, liver, and thyroid mean that you’re more likely to reach for unprocessed foods when you do eat.

// Yoga balances the endocrine system, which includes the adrenal glands and all hormones. This both decreases the overall amount of belly fat and increases feelings of wellbeing. “One study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol.”

// Yoga helps you sleep better, which offers a ton of benefits for both mind and body. Disrupted sleep has been linked to weight gain, mood swings, overeating, emotional eating, and decreased immunity, while quality sleep has been proven to support weight loss.

Yoga can do all that!? Yes, and much more…

//  Yoga prevents cartilage and joint breakdown. It has been proven to increase bone density and improves balance. All of these help you engage in exercise more safely to maintain a long term healthy weight.

Yoga drains the lymphatic system and boots immunity; increases blood flow; lowers blood sugar; prevents IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other digestive complaints; reduces pain; supports substance use recovery; keeps allergies and viruses at bay; builds self-esteem & confidence; and supports healthy fascia / connective tissue!

// Yoga increase muscles tone, meaning that you will burn more Calories in general; additionally, stretching your muscles can increase the effectiveness of any exercise regimen. The Journal of Applied Physiology found intense stretching can increase muslce mass by 318% in 28 days.

Rock Your Resolutions in 2020

Planning to shed some weight for this new year / new decade? Take advantage of our 28 Days for $28 plan to jumpstart your 2020 goals. Whether you join us for our “Rock Your Resolution” classes** that will get your heart pumping and work up a sweat – or simply utilize our relaxing, stretch-focused classes to support your overall fitness routine, Yoga has been proven to support better physical & mental wellbeing, including weight loss.

“I joined the Waynesville Yoga Center (WYC) with an unlimited classes/monthly membership and take as many classes as I can weekly! Since joining, I have lost 23 pounds! Some of it is from changing my diet and being more active in general, but some of it is definitely from the classes I take every week at WYC.” {Pat R.}

 

**Rock Your Resolutions Series are challenging classes designed to give you a killer workout. Come prepared to sweat! See our class calendar for details**

 

Leigh-Ann Renz offers yoga + massage at Waynesville Yoga Center

 

Leigh-Ann Renz is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, and part of the management team at Waynesville Yoga Center.

November 2019: Yoga for Gratitude

Studies have shown that the shape and expression of our bodies can create changes in our emotions. For example, when participants strategically altered their facial muscles – at the direction of researchers – they most often felt the emotion that those muscles normally express.

They weren’t being told to “make a sad face”; they were given very specific, isolated instructions, such as “lift your eyebrows up and towards the corners of your forehead” or “draw the chin back and down 20%”.

And before the series of specific directions had molded their faces or bodies into a classic emotional communication, they were already experiencing that sensation, whether happiness, anger, fear, etc.

It’s pretty phenomenal that, while our bodies reflect our experiences – moment-to-moment – we can use that communication to better support our minds and emotions. Stretching your arms up and out can help you feel more energetic when you’re tired.

Squaring your shoulders and breathing into your heart can foster confidence as you walk into a business meeting. Relaxing your face and eyes can help alleviate tension during the day.

Practicing poses of gratitude in your yoga practice can help you feel more thankful, even when life is challenging and intense:

Gratitude Mudras

Mudras are the sign language of yoga, in which we form shapes with our hands and fingers to express particular qualities. They can alter our attitude and perceptions, while deepening awareness & concentration.

// Anahata Mudra

The most common mudra is the simple act of bringing your palms together in front of your heart. Not only do we typically end our yoga classes with this gesture of equanimity, it’s a commonly practiced form of respect and peace throughout the world.

This simple gesture helps calm the nervous system, focus your thoughts, organize your emotions, and harmonize the entire body! Use it not only when you feel grateful, but also when scared, scattered, overwhelmed or challenged.

 

// Padma (Lotus) Mudra

From Anahata, let the palms open, but keep the thumbs and pinkies touching, forming a flower shape with the hands. In Yoga (and many other traditions), the lotus is a powerful symbol: it’s literally rooted in the mud at the bottom of the river, yet opens into the most gorgeous bloom.

In the same way, we are called upon to show our best selves – to share the most beautiful, radiant version of ourselves – every day. We may not be able to bloom much; life is intense, and full of suffering. But we can always offer up our very best, no matter how feeble that may be, no matter what we’re experiencing.

This is the story of transformation and alchemy that Yoga offers us each & every day.

 

Grateful Pose

While we can express gratitude in any yoga pose, especially those in which we’re folding forward in a pose of surrender, there is actually an asana called “grateful pose”. From cow face pose (Gomukhasana), release the hands to the floor, folding over your legs and bringing your chin to (or past) your knees.

Hold this shape for 30 – 90 seconds, breathing deeply and focusing your thoughts on things that you feel grateful for and bring you joy. Make the pose even more powerful by bringing the hands into Anahata mudra, still on the floor, but pressed together. Switch sides and repeat.

 

Humble Warrior

We normally think of the warrior poses as intense, fiery, challenging shapes – but any true warrior knows that there are times to employ humility and softness! Humble warrior can be very challenging for balance, but is a wonderful way to open the heart & shoulders, stretch the hips and inner thighs, and remind ourselves of the balance between hard and soft.

From Warrior II, bring the hands together behind your back, interlacing the fingers if possible. Inhale, lifting out of the low back and lengthening the spine; then hinge forward over your front leg, engaging your core on the way down. When you feel a deep but safe stretch, hold and breathe deeply for 30 – 90 seconds.

Let the head be heavy, relax the neck and continue squeezing the shoulders & arms towards each other. Keep the legs strong and active, especially pressing into the blade of the back foot to increase stability and balance. To come back up, draw the navel in towards the spine, root the tailbone and roll back up, keeping the hands together until you’re upright. Switch sides and repeat.

Heart Openers

When we feel grateful, our hands instinctively go to our hearts. How many times have you felt a strong emotion of “THANK YOU!” and found that your palms had unconsciously pressed together on their own? This spontaneous mudra is a perfect example of how our bodies, minds and emotions are vitally integrated.

Any yoga poses that open our hearts increase feelings of gratitude and connection. However, because they also tap into the vulnerability that’s necessary for connection with others, they can feel dangerous. If you have unresolved emotional experiences or a history of trauma, move gently in and out of heart openers, recognizing that they may bring up fear.

An example of an active heart opening pose is camel, in which the lower body is solid and supported by your shins on the floor, while your upper body is reaching up and back, opening the heart, throat and front of the shoulders. If you know or practice camel, be sure to engage your belly muscles the whole time, to protect the low back and hips. You can even bring the hands together in Anahata mudra, using only core muscles to hold yourself up.

A more gentle version is a reclining heart opener, in which you lie on a bolster, allowing the arms to extend out to the sides for a long, gentle stretch. The head and neck are supported by the bolster, and the legs are shaped around it in a way that is comfortable for the low back and hips.

Turn the palms up to encourage a stretch in the fascia of the chest throat and breathe deeply, focusing the mind on safety and surrender to goodness. If you experience discomfort in the pose, you might need to a) change the position of your legs; b) adjust the bolster under your body; or c) replace the bolster with a folded blanket.

Just before coming out of the pose, focus completely on gratitude and blessings for 10 deep, slow breaths.

Take Away

Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects who did not.

Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

Making time each day for gratitude is not only a proven way to feel happier and more fulfilled; it can also make you more productive, emotionally steady, and mentally focused. Use these yoga practices to increase gratitude in your life – both on and off the mat!

 

Leigh-Ann Renz offers yoga + massage at Waynesville Yoga Center

 

Leigh-Ann Renz is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and part of the management team at Waynesville Yoga Center.

Ever Tried Creative Visualization?

For those of us who experience four seasons, we’re no stranger to the October shifts. As we watch the leaves change colors, or maybe experience an early frost, we start anticipating the new routine of bundling up, indulging in warm foods + beverages, and perhaps spending less time outdoors.

For some of us, it brings on a feeling of change and contemplation. Where was I this time last year? Where do I want to be this time of year next year? And how do I get there- be it in regards to our mental health, physical well-being, habits, finances, relationships, etc.

Well since you can’t google the answer to these questions, the best way to find them is through stillness. Firstly, it’s important to remember that your life is a work of art. Every year you write chapters of a story, and while you can’t go back and rewrite chapters, you make decisions everyday that write the next one.

So perhaps trying some creative visualization can help guide you forward through the season and incite a ‘click’ of clarity when it comes to your goals.

Think of a goal that is important to you. It can be a long-range or short-range one. Write down the goal as clearly as possible in one sentence. Underneath that, write “Ideal Scene,” and proceed to describe the situation exactly as you would like it to be when your goal is fully realized.

Describe it in the present tense, as if it already exists, in as much detail as you wish. When you have finished, write at the bottom, “This, or something better, is now manifesting for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned,” and add any other affirmations you wish, and sign your name.

Then sit quietly, relax, visualize your ideal scene at your meditative level of mind, and do your affirmations. Keep your ideal scene in your notebook, in your desk, near your bed, or hang it on your wall. Read it often, and make appropriate changes when necessary. Bring it to mind during your meditation periods.

One word of warning: if you put it away in a drawer and forget about it, you are very likely to find one day that it has manifested anyhow without your consciously putting any energy into it at all.

(This exercise, and others like it, can be found in Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.)

5 Tips to Stay Diligent with Your Yoga Practice

Finding it hard to get to the studio on the reg? Or sticking to your home practice while juggling work, family, fun or travel? It happens! Sometimes life has us looking in another direction and – before you know it – you haven’t touched your mat in weeks.

I’ve gone through phases of squeezing in a practice twice a day to maybe once every few weeks; but without fail, every time I return to my mat and start feeling the physical and mental benefits, I’m in disbelief that I’d abandoned something that makes me feel so good (and so balanced).

I often come across articles on how to stay diligent with your practice: Have good habits! Wake up early! Stay consistent! Make it a priority! Uh yeah, I’m going to need something a little more concrete than that.

I figured out that the key to staying diligent with MY yoga practice, especially while traveling and constantly changing scenery, is to find ways to stay excited about it. So here are my tips to keep your EXCITEMENT to practice alive:

Make an adventure out of it

I throw my mat in my car and drive somewhere I’ve never been: a grassy park, a beautiful garden, the bank of a canyon or usually near a body of water, as I find it invites a
sense of calm. By making a mission of my practice, it becomes a fun reward for setting off and discovering something new. Settling onto my mat in these places also feels like a way of honoring and embracing little slices of the world that we sometimes walk right past: a grassy spot behind a barn, near some cool formation of rocks or under a tree that’s older that most people you know. Maybe bring a journal and see what comes through in your post-practice clarity.

If you’re looking for a quick jump-off in the Waynesville area, check out the cemetery, one of the nooks in Vance Park, something along Pigeon River or head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Get a playlist together

Am I craving a pump-me-up power flow? Or do I want something to quiet my mind while I melt into restorative poses?

Putting together a playlist before I start helps me set the vibe for what my mind and body needs that day and is also a good way to time my practice. Hop on YouTube or Spotify and chose a pre-made playlist, or use the opportunity to discover new music, artists or genres.

I bounce among desert / psychedelic rock; Afrobeat; Indian drumming and sitar; or Indonesian gamelan. Sometimes you end up creating the ultimate zen zone and are ready for a nap; other times, you end up in a one-woman dance party, ready to slay the day.

A playlist is just one piece of ambiance you can prep for yourself. Light some candles or incense, dim the lights, pump up the volume – all these help set the mood around you and enhance your sense of place and presence.

Feel good in the clothes you’re practicing in

Have you ever bought a pair of yoga pants that make you feel all sucked in and supported? Or a top that adds a little pop of color to your look? Little things like this get me excited to hit my mat. It’s not about looking sexy per se – but it’s about feeling good in your own skin. Read our blog on What to Wear to Yoga if you’re looking for some tips!

As a sun worshipper, I prefer a hot day in a bathing suit top + some linen pants, flippin’ my dog as a tanning tactic more than a yoga pose (who said you can’t multi-task during yoga!).

Find a buddy and make plans for after yoga

Whether it’s meeting at a studio or coming together for an informal practice, I find that making plans for AFTER yoga makes sure I actually make it to my mat. Having a yoga buddy can keep you accountable if you’re looking for consistency in your practice and can also invite some fun! (Don’t have a buddy? Go to a class, smile, introduce yourself to people, be kind and maybe someone will want to be your friend.)

Maybe you want to sit on the front porch at Waynesville Yoga and have a chat over tea; head over to Mad Anthony’s for a cold brew or snack; have a picnic; get a couples’ massage; or better yet- maybe you and your friend decide to go on a yoga retreat together and make a fun trip out of it!

Find YOUR mat + keep it in eyesight

I’ll practice in the sand, on the grass or a rug if I have to, but I’m a BIG fan of the feeling and smell of my mat (yeah, whatever, I like the smell of rubber and hope it never goes away).

For awhile I was using this old, worn down mat that hadn’t withstood the test of extended backpacking trips: tossed in dirty bus storage and ripped up by cute dogs all eager to say what up. It had no grip or support – and was really only great because it folded up so small.

Then I made the switch to a Jade lightweight mat, which were the first green and non-toxic yoga mats on the market. No longer was I slipping around when I went on my hot yoga kick or feeling my bones touch the floor below my mat during savasana.

When picking a mat, consider what you need. Do you travel and want something lightweight? Do you want something thicker to support you? Do your hands and feet tend to get really sweaty during your practice? Are you tall and need a longer mat?

Figure out what type of mat will best fit your practice lifestyle, then head to a store like REI where you can actually touch the options. You might come across great deals online – but I wouldn’t purchase a mat unless I’ve put my hands on it and feel confident that it’s a good fit. Then, keep that puppy in sight! I know if it’s in my line of vision i’m more likely to roll er’ out and maybe just stretch a bit.

Follow these tips, pick a mantra that speaks to you, and you’re sure to keep not just the magic of your yoga practice alive- but the magic of life and presence.

 

Jerica remotely handles marketing + management for Waynesville Yoga Center. When not working, she can be found embracing whatever place she’s found herself in, embarking on an adventure, or contemplating life while perched in tree pose. Taking classes at WYC has helped her develop a stronger dedication to her yoga practice and has led to an obsession with heart openers. 

 

take it off the mat!

While yoga is magical and amazing, on many levels, I’m way more blown away by its applications in my life off the mat. I appreciate what it does for me physical, mentally and emotionally – of course – but I’m amazed when I’m able to take my practice into the world around me.

In the summer of 2001, I was in Brooklyn for my cousin’s wedding. I had only been practicing for a few years and was somewhat obsessed with Cyndi Lee’s (now closed) Om Yoga studio.

I was in my early 20s, and it was an exciting adventure to take the subway to Manhattan, find the location (in the days before smart phones) and climb the narrow staircase to the studio.

As I made my way into the lobby, I heard this piercing noise: one of the building’s fire alarms was ringing in full blare. I thought to myself “Oh man, there’s no way they can have classes with that all that noise. Damn! I’m gonna miss my chance to practice at Om Yoga” – but there was someone smiling calmly at me from behind the front desk, as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

When I asked if the class was still happening, she confirmed that it was, took my payment and got me pointed in the right direction, never once addressing the still-clanging alarm. I honestly was so stunned by her utter lack of response to the noise that I just followed her lead and got settled on my mat.

The instructor had the same attitude and demeanor: he acknowledged the noise and apologized for it, but never once indicated that we wouldn’t have the class as planned. We did the entire hour-and-a-half practice with that fire alarm ringing the whole time. The teacher raised his voice to be heard, and none of the other students seemed put off by the experience in the least.

I must have tuned it out, because I distinctly remember “waking up” after savasana and thinking “Oh wow, that alarm’s still ringing. Huh….” And that was it… I had a great class at my dream studio and walked back down those steep stairs into the hustle and bustle of the city.

When I was initially learning yoga, my very first teacher used to hold informal classes in her home – or sometimes, at her family’s store in Ybor City, a party neighborhood in Tampa. I literally learned yoga over the sounds of cars honking, music blaring, bass buzzing, people laughing and screaming. My teacher used to tell us that it was a perfect environment to practice in, because it would help us tune more deeply into our bodies, into ourselves.

I never learned to expect quiet from my yoga practice, and I’ve found that this expectation has served me well off my mat. Life isn’t quiet. Our minds aren’t quiet. Even in the most beautiful, epic scene in nature (which of course abound in our WNC community), our monkey minds are chitter-chattering away: ruminating about the past, dreaming and planning for the future, processing and solving problems we’re experiencing.

The whole point of yoga is to help us find the quiet within – no matter what’s happening. We might be calm and at peace; we tune into the beauty of that gift. We might be disrupted, upset, scared, angry, riding the waves of our emotions; we draw on our practice to tune into the quiet and the answers within. We might be practicing yoga in a serene space, and we enjoy that quiet. Or we’re in the middle of our practice and we hear the sirens of an ambulance – a barking dog – people chatting in the lobby – or construction noise.

Yoga helps me accept what is, without knowing what’s coming next. Sometimes it’s gentle and pleasant; sometimes it’s intense and loud. By learning how to stay present with my body and my breath on my mat, I’m more equipped to handle the unpleasant, unknown or intense experiences that life hands me. Yoga helps me enjoy the calm and quiet – and save that nourishment up for the disruption, which is always inevitable in this impermanent, ever-changing human experience.

 

Leigh-Ann Renz offers yoga + massage at Waynesville Yoga Center

 

Leigh-Ann Renz is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and part of the management team at Waynesville Yoga Center.

What is Shiatsu?

Zen Shiatsu (“shee-ott-soo”) is soothing, yet effective, bodywork that treats not only muscles, joints, and nerves – but also bio-electricity energy within the body (known as qi, or chi = “chee”). A shiatsu session includes gentle rotation of limbs, stretching of muscles, and stimulating points along the Chinese medicine meridians of the body, from the head + face down to the toes and fingers.

Shiatsu can be especially effective for managing chronic pain, insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, headaches, past injuries, and many sub-clinical symptoms that may disrupt daily life (e.g. digestive issues, seasonal allergies, sleep disturbances, minor aches and weaknesses).

Shiatsu complements medical treatments for more serious diseases, including managing the symptoms and side effects of many medications.

Shiatsu can be experienced both on a massage table – or a padded mat on the floor. Many people like that you do not disrobe for a shiatsu session: it is experienced clothed, without oil. Many people who find traditional massage too vigorous or invasive experience shiatsu as a calming, welcome alternative. It brings the body into a relaxed state to encourage self-healing.

Waynesville Yoga Center is excited and grateful to welcome Raymond Johnson of Mountain Zen Shiatsu! He’ll be offering Shiatsu sessions at WYC on Tuesdays, 12 – 8 PM and Sundays, 10 AM – 4 PM. To experience Raymond’s calm, healing presence – and to see how amazing shiatsu can make you feel, book a session with him now: 828.246.6570.

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  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

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Waynesville Yoga Center
274 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786

828.246.6570

hello@waynesvilleyogacenter.com

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