Monday, July 27, 2009

Teaching Vow to Build a Hearth

Today I made an appointment with my first private lesson. A lovely woman who is part of another Dharma community here in Portland. We met at the Founder's Dinner for the Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple. She is interested in exploring on-going, private lessons in her home.

In a moment the change was made. I went from just teaching at a community center to having clients I work with on a focused practice. Getting to learn from the opportunity to work one-on-one with a student to address their specific needs.

I am pledging some money from every private lesson to the founding of Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple. My eventual goal is to offer regular yoga classes and workshops at the temple. If I am making a split with a studio on the earnings of yoga offerings then I'd rather that split support my Sangha's hearth. To move towards this goal I am making the vow of contributing part of my yoga income to seeing the space come to be.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Mini-Workshop, June 14

Metta Yoga

Touching the Heart of Practice

A 2-hour Mini-Workshop Exploring Loving-Kindness and Hatha Yoga

Sunday, June 14th, 2:50pm - 4:50pm

Offered as a fundraiser for the Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple Fund

Metta (Sanskrit for Loving-Kindness) is one of the sublime attitudes of an unlighted being. In this mini-workshop we will learn to use the transformative, beneficial energy that arises from Loving-Kindness practice to provide support for yoga postures. We will practice letting go of the fear and anxiety that manifest as physical tension and pain, while cultivating a sense of ease and happiness with our bodies.

Modifications, options and adjustments will be offered to make postures accessible to students at all levels and all body types.

Suggested donation $15 - $25

Portland Dharma Center
2514 SE Madison Street
Portland, OR 9714

This workshop is taught by Sherri Montgomery, Samatha Yoga

Please post a comment or send a message through Blogger if you are interested in more details.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More to Come!

OK, I'm going to get around to actually sharing reviews I wrote from the classes I took around Portland during my second round of teacher training. Soon. And other stuff too.

My plan is to write one post here a week about yoga practice. Could be technique, might be thoughts on the Yoga Sutras, or just talking about my practice as a student & a teacher. The asana posts will all be updated to include technique and eventually photographs. I will be writing about the crowded, 45-minute class I offered at BarCamp last month!

Lots of stuff happening in June. I'll be offering a session at the Open Source Bridge conference in Portland on the 17th. Entitled, "Get Off Your Asana and Move!" the session will offer the types of yoga that can be done anywhere, especially at a desk! Little nervous about this, but am looking forward to it.

Looks like things are shaping up for me to do a mini-workshop the 14th called 'Metta Yoga'. This will do some focused Loving-Kindness practice then work to move through asana practice incorporating a loving mind, loving body into the practice. I plan to end with a long body scan that offers loving kindness to the whole body.

In April I attending a sesshin, a silent retreat in Zen Buddhist tradition, on the theme of Metta at Great Vow Zen Monastery. In the deep silence of that time I felt deeply connected to the lineage of Yoga. Although we work to settle the mind, as Patanjali taught us, I found my thoughts returning again and again to incorporating the power of Metta with my classes.

All that and plans underway to move this blog to a more permanent home. Gorgeous business cards have been designed by my marvelous partner and the proofs look great. She has also been working on the permanent home I mentioned. Soon 'Samatha Yoga' will be online! There's even going to be some professional photographs taken at the end of the month!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chest Opener at Wall

  • Opens the shoulders, triceps, underarms, and chest in the upper body.
  • The legs are also given a good stretch.
  • Tapping over the breastbone activates the thymus gland which produces 65-75% of the lymphosites in the body. Lymphosites work to consume unhealthy bacteria and viruses in the body.
  • Injuries in the shoulders may make this a difficult pose. It may still be possible, with modification, such as keeping the arm lower.
  • Stand with the hip near a wall, about 6-12 inches away.
  • Step the foot nearest to the wall forward and foot away from the wall back. Feet will be about 3 feet apart, similar to Vrhbdrasana (warrior) I
  • Bring the hand of the arm closest to the wall behind you at shoulder height or lower and spread out the fingers of the hand onto the wall.
  • On an exhalation bend into the front knee until an opening is felt in the chest or shoulder nearest to the wall.
  • Get a strong pelvic tilt, bringing the pubic bone towards the navel. This will bring additional opening to the quadriceps of the leg furthest from the wall.
  • Keep the chin parallel to the floor.
  • With the free, outside hand, lightly tap the breastbone to activate the thymus gland.
  • Breathe deeply for several breaths the release the arm and step forward.
  • Pivot around so outside now is closest to the wall and repeat steps.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Visualization Practice - Lake Mind

Start first with some deep yoga breaths, feeling the body being breathed by the air moving in and out of the lungs. Feel the body settle, the muscles releasing from their effort. As the body settles into just the movement of breath let the mind start to settle as well.

Begin to see your mind as if it were a quiet, deep, still mountain lake. No other person around and nothing but the sound of the wind in the treetops. The lake is a beautiful blue and crystal clear. You can see through the water to the sandy bottom.

When a thought begins to arise in the mind, see it as a bubble rising from the sandy bottom, moving to the surface through the blue water. As it pops at the surface the ripples move outward towards the shoreline. The ripples grow further & further apart until at last they subside and the lake is still once more.

Each time a thought arises just see it as another bubble surfacing on the lake. Do not give into judging the appearance of the bubbles of thoughts arising, no matter how many nor how few. Just let them arise, watch the ripples of them move towards the quiet shore, then see the lake-mind settling into stillness again.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dharana Practice I - Breath Awareness

Simple focus on the breath in the body is one of the many methods of developing Dharana, or concentration. Since the breath is always with us it is a very helpful tool to settle the mind and establish a single point of focus. This helps us to cultivate a deep meditation practice, Dhyana, and move towards experiences of the boundless mind of Samadhi.

For practicing Dharana and Dhyana the body should be settled in a comfortable position. Although this can be done seated, standing, lying down (e.g., during Savasana), or through a practice of walking mediation, this example will focus on the seated posture. Since the object is to settle the mind into silence, as written by the sage Patanjali in the second of the Yoga Sutras, it is best to first settle the body comfortably so the mind's attention is not constantly focused on some point of discomfort in the body. A timer may be helpful so your mind does not have to devote any attention to how much time may or may have not passed and the bell is useful as signal that your practice is finished.

Begin in Sukhasana. If it is uncomfortable to sit on the floor a chair can be used. The arms can be releasing down with the hands either resting upon the thigh to knee area of each leg, in Jnana Mudra, or in the lap in Samadhi/Dhyana Mudra. The eyes can either close or the gaze softens and falls to the area about a foot in front of the feet (at a 45 degree angle).

Start breathing in and out through the nose. Draw in deeper breaths at first. Feeling the belly draw out so air can be drawn down to the bottom lobes of the lungs. As the breath moves through the mid-lungs, let the mind's awareness rest upon the expansion in the side ribs. At the top of a deep, full breath watch the expansion that happens as the top of the lungs fill with air. the collar-bones move away slightly and there is space created by the lifting of the breastbone and the expansion of the shoulder-blades.

Just as completely as the lungs are filled, empty them just as completely and deliberately. Moving the breath and the mind's focus through the top of the lungs, the middle section, and ending when the belly draws in somewhat to empty the lungs. Breathing in and out deeply for several of these big, three-part breaths. Letting the mind settle on the sensation of the body being breathed from top to bottom, side to side, and front to back.

Now return to a gentle, easy breath; in and out through the nose. Let the mind settle to one aspect of the breath. Draw attention to the coolness of the in breath as it moves over the area above the lips and into the nasal passages. On the exhalation this same breath you can notice the way the body has warmed the breath at the tip of the nose and above the lips. Watch the sensation of the diaphragm and muscles of the ribs moving, contracting, softening with each inhalation and exhalation. The mind may also try settling in the way the belly moves with each breath. Just find one sensation of breath that you can focus the attention on.

If the mind wanders, do not get caught up in judging it. Merely notice, "Oh, there I am thinking about something.", and return back to the sensation of the breath in the body. It doesn't matter if you keep having to return the mind to this focus, just notice when it is not there and bring it back. Each breath is an opportunity to return to concentrating on the sensation.

Should the mind desperately need some more precise activity let it settle into labeling each breath. "This is me drawing in a breath. This is me exhaling."

The Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hahn, offers several lovely suggestions for labeling the breath during breathing meditation including, "Inhaling, I notice I am alive. Exhaling, I smile at my life."

Monday, January 19, 2009



Go - A cow
Mukha - The face

Cow-Faced Pose

  • Opens the shoulders, triceps, underarms, and chest in the upper body.
  • The hips, thighs and ankles in the lower body are also given a deep stretch.
  • Injuries in the shoulders, ankles and knees may make this a difficult pose. It may still be possible, with modification.
  • If the fingers cannot be clasped a strap should be used for the hands to hold on to.
  • If the sit bones do not reach the ground or are on the ground unevenly use a blanket to provide support.
  • Doing just the arms of Gomukhasana provides an excellent shoulder stretch and opens the chest for beginners or those yogis & yoginis who cannot fully practice the part of this pose for the legs and hips.