Recent blog topics at

The Yoga of Sleeping
Mind Patrol: Past, Present, or Future?
When Asana Isn't Enough
Book: The 52 Lists Project
Yoga Is for Every Body

How many times do I say "breathe" or "inhale and exhale" in a session? Dozens. Multiplied by numerous classes a week, probably hundreds of times in a month, and thousands of times a year. Why does it matter?

In yoga, breath, or pranayama, means "life force". This life force rules the entire body. What we do with our breath is what impacts this life force. 

We've worked with many breathing techniques in various classes. The key is to remember to do them regularly, and witness the transformation. Here are a few to try.
Movement Happenings!
I'm back at Fitness by Design in May subbing for Mary St. Onge once again. If you'd like to come play in the Mixed Level or Gentle Yoga classes on Sunday May 20th, or on Wednesday mornings in May, register and pay ahead on the studio's website. These are 75-minute classes and always fun!

The popular Yoga in the Garden monthly series at the Des Moines Botanical Center continues! Every last Wednesday in the month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., enjoy a warming tour of the Center before the hour-long class. Led by Drew Maifeld and assorted instructors. The next classes are May 30th and June 27th! Session cost: free for Center members; $20 for non-members. Register online.

Ben "Good Vibes" Spellman leads a community yoga class most Wednesday evenings at Windsor Heights Community and Events Center. Check out his Facebook page for more information.

The Ankeny Yoga in the Park weekly Saturday series is underway! Always free, featuring a variety of instructors and styles, usually at Wagner Park. Visit the City of Ankeny website for schedule.

Yoga in the Park at Gray's Lake weekly Saturday series begins June 2nd! Always free, usually in the grassy area by the south parking lot (at the back of the park), you can enjoy a variety of instructors and styles. Visit Des Moines Parks and Recreation for schedule.

Yoga on the Lawn in West Des Moines weekly Sunday series begins June 3rd! Also always free, also with a variety of instructors and styles, usually positioned between the West Des Moines Library and City Hall on the grass by the lake. Visit West Des Moines Parks and Recreation for schedule.

There should also be some Pop Up Yoga outdoor events in Des Moines soon. The organization's website needs updating, so follow its Facebook page for information. These are usually freewill donation sessions with a variety of instructors and styles.

Because people said they were a little too busy in May, Yogi Chat and Walk will be Sunday, June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. starting at Gray's Lake south parking lot and walking to the Unitarian Church labyrinth and back. If we feel inclined to stop in Confluence Brewing after the walk, well, that's always an option! If I don't hear from anyone, I won't be there, so please text me by Friday, June 1st to let me know if you're coming! Shine or rain, unless there's lightning.

Meditation Happenings!
Meditation Around Town continues at various locations around the city, courtesy of the wonderful Dennis Kelly. Each monthly session features a different leader. Always fun and interesting!
-On Thursday, May 17th at 6:00 p.m., the meditation will be guided by ME at Tera Lake, 6300 Pioneer Parkway in Johnston -- please bring a yoga mat or chair.
-On Thursday, June 21st. at 6:00 p.m., Judy Olson will lead the session at Campbell Park, 12385 Woodlands Parkway in Clive. Always free!
Learn more here.

Eric Daishin McCabe will lead a half-day Zen Retreat at Pure Land Iowa in Clive on Saturday, June 2nd beginning at 1:30 p.m. Visit Pure Land for more details.

Each Tuesday evening, the Des Moines Meditation Group hosts a mindfulness meditation sitting at the Friends Meeting House at 42nd and Grand. Newcomers can enjoy the first sitting from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with iconic Des Moines meditation leaders. The site needs updating, but you can reach out to some of the meditation leaders for more information by email. 

If you're looking for a more regular group meditation practice throughout the week, try the Des Moines Zen Center. Meditation sessions are typically 40 minutes long, and other events include potlucks and dharma talks. -->Word from those in the know is there's a special beginner's session that you can attend if necessary. Review the schedule and reach out to the leaders for more information.

And consider experiencing a gong bath as meditation! Deb Jennings and Sounds for the Soul offers a number of sound therapy happenings each month. For information about location, cost, days, full moon/new moon events in May and June, and chances to learn how to play gong, check out Deb's site.

If you'd like to have a more private meditation session, there are a number of resources you can use. Here are some recommendations from various students: Headspace, Insight Timer, and The Mindfulness App.

Private Sessions
Sometimes group classes aren't for everyone. Whether it's due to scheduling conflicts, personal circumstances, injury or illness recovery, or just to relish quiet time focused on  yourself, private sessions are an intimate, transformative way to explore yoga in a meaningful manner, 1:1, accessing a more effective practice.

This is a unique experience: private yoga sessions are intimate, created especially for your needs and goals for yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. I meet with clients in their homes or at the Des Moines Public Library Central Campus.

If you or someone you know desires this type of personal attention, reach out for more information and/or referral cards.

Missed a newsletter or just want to learn more? Here's a link!
Some people have asked to look for tips provided in previous TKY newsletters. Thank you for your interest! You can find a helpful list of them by following this link.

Chair Yoga Students: Clips for You
Here are links to home-based chair yoga practices. Some students asked for these specifically, but they're also good supplemental options when you're at work, feeling under the weather but still wanting to move a bit, or just need gentle movement options. I even hear stories of people doing these sequences with friends and family at home, which is terrific! Please give me feedback as to how you like them!

Notice how these videos are from qualified health facilities. This is why I say  everyone can safely practice chair yoga, even if they're dealing with specific issues. The medical community at large supports it! There's no reason to set aside your practice--simply talk with me about variations or modifications so you can receive all the other benefits.

*UK Health Care: three short videos - this one, or this one, or maybe this one! Or do all three!

*Moffitt Cancer Center developed a lovely, peaceful session.

*Gentle Chair Yoga from the Toronto Rehab Center

I love to hear how people benefit from chair yoga! It's truly a wonderful introduction to a consistent and meaningful practice.
On one hand, chair yoga is totally accessible to just about everyone, regardless of health conditions or mobility. On the other hand, many people report how surprised they are when they feel energized and challenged during some sessions. And no matter what, they feel relaxed afterward.

If you haven't tried a chair yoga session yet, or used to do it but dropped away for whatever reason, talk to your colleagues about how classes are going for them, and come back in any time!
(The people above aren't from our classes, so I may have to sneak a few pictures to show you off!)

Speaking of Sitting...Stop It!

Okay, so while chair yoga is incredibly beneficial, sitting for long periods of time is not. After all, when you're staring at your computer, you're not doing a variation of Warrior II, like the practitioners in the picture above. 

Yet this is our world now, especially for anyone who works in an office. Our bodies are curved in front of a screen, be it the computer, a tablet, or phone.

When the media got wind of the alarming statistics regarding the correlation between long periods of sitting and chronic disease, it was all anyone could talk about for months: "Sitting will kill you!" And this exclamation isn't far from the truth. Diabetes, neurological diseases, cardiovascular conditions, and other ailments all worsen the longer you sit. Even if you exercise before or after work, it's the compounded time spent sitting during the day that's most damaging.

Fortunately, there's a way to combat this: get up and move. It sounds easy, and it is (I've stood up and walked around three times while developing this newsletter!) but it starts with a shift of mindset. Instead of thinking of your body as a separate thing, says dancer and philosopher Kimerer LaMothe, remember that "humans are bodies, and bodies are movement." From her perspective, she stresses that the body needs diverse movement to cultivate sensory awareness. She's speaking specifically of dance, but she's not the first person to express the value of movement in your every day.

Wellness coach Ben Medder takes movement a step further, detailing how important it is for our emotions and mental health to engage our bodies on a regular basis. Doesn't matter how fast or slow, how long or how short--just continue to recognize the value of consistent motion.

So--back to sitting and how you can keep it from killing you. Stand up. Make arm circles. Flex forward and back to open your shoulders. Keep a smaller water cup on your desk so you have to get up more frequently to fill it. When you go to the restroom, come back and do chair yoga stretches for 10 minutes. When you stand, move to a window and look outside for one minute to give your eyes a screen break. Walk outside for 10 minutes three times a day.

This great article from Very Well Fit details the sitting statistics and all the ways you can remove yourself from desk shackles throughout the day.


How can you create an intention to get up and stretch more frequently? Share your thoughts privately with Tracey, or start a discussion on the TKY Facebook page.





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