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Yoga Is for Every Body
Meditate Much?
Self-Care: The Greatest Gift


In many conversations I've had with students, colleagues, friends, and family members, the concept of purposeful rest is discussed. But in hushed tones, as if saying out loud "I'm tired" or "I need to take a break" prompts reproach. Because we should always be "busy!" to be worthy!

And this thinking is exactly why self-care is more important now than ever.

A new discovery for me, and for you: Yoga Nidra teacher Karen Brody's Daring to Rest. Directed primarily at women, but it's worth exploring by all humans.

(Don't you just love this pic at left from her blog?)
Movement Happenings!
The Health and Fitness Expo is this Saturday and Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena. Various group classes for adults and children, multitudes of exhibitors, wellness testing, cooking demonstrations, and more. Free! Learn more here.

Yoga Under the Stars begins again at the Science Center of Iowa's Star Theater Planetarium on January 8th. Various instructors lead an evening class each Monday in the series. For more information about cost and time, click here.

The quarterly yoga and gallery talk program at the Des Moines Arts Center continues in 2018. This is usually a free offering, but reservations are required, and the class is limited to 50 participants, so act quickly! The next event is scheduled for Saturday, January 13th.

Yogi Chat! Sunday, January 28th 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Sometimes, there's simply not enough time before or after class to talk to one another and discuss yoga lifestyle practices, get to know one another better, and catch up on other important aspects of life. So once a month or so, it would be fun to have a casual gathering and do just that!

I'll set up a large table at the downtown Panera at 10th and Walnut on Sunday, January 28th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. We can each get our own favorite beverage or nibble, and just hang out. If you can make it for a while (obviously you don't have to stay the whole time if your schedule doesn't allow it), great! If not, hopefully you can come to the next gathering. If the weather is nasty, e.g. horrible snow, just assume we'll reschedule for February.

Skywalk Hike! Sunday, January 28th 1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
"Hiking" through the skywalk is so much fun! Even with the closures, you can still travel nearly 4 miles through the system. It's always interesting to see Des Moines' architecture from this high perspective. A good hour walk usually works out great, and we'll stretch afterward (general post-cardio stretching, that is!).

Where to meet/park: notice this is conveniently scheduled after the yogi talk! So if you've come to that, we can simply take the skywalk from Panera over to the meeting spot. The meeting spot will be the security desk/railing outside of EMC's entrance on the southside of the system.

This means you can park for free on Sunday at either of the TWO parking garages in the 800/900 block of Mulberry St.--the Wells Fargo one, or the EMC one. Take the skywalk entrance off the elevator, and head into the system. If you're at Wells Fargo, you'll turn right to get to the EMC meeting spot. If you're at the EMC garage, once you're in the system, the security desk/railing is directly in front of you through the doors.

Again, if the weather is nasty, e.g. horrible snow, just assume we'll reschedule for February. But--we had a skywalk outing last weekend during all the negative temps, and it was toasty up there! That run to/from the car was pretty brisk, though! So cold may not be a reason to cancel the chat or the walk!

Hey! Come Practice with Me at Fitness by Design! (Temporarily, anyway!)
Miss having me hold you in Shoulder Roll I for 15 breaths per side? Curious about what new moves I might know? Wonder if I've combed my hair recently? Then join me when I fill in for Mary St. Onge at Fitness by Design (FBD)!

On Sunday, February 11th and Sunday, February 18th, I'll teach two classes:
*Hatha/Mixed-Level from 10:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m.
*Gentle Yoga from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
There are often some wonderful people in these sessions, so you'll feel right at home! 

You'll register on FBD's site for class and pay the facility directly. Hope to see some familiar faces!

Meditation Happenings!
A new season of the Meditation Around Town begins January 18th! Founder Dennis Kelly continues to offer diverse leaders and metro locations, which makes for a fascinating experience. On Thursday, January 18th, Kimberly Graham will lead a session at 6:00 p.m. at the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines. Always free! Learn more here.

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. Review the schedule.

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.

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, and full moon/new moon events in January, check out Deb's site.

Private Sessions
Many people have asked if I still teach private sessions now that the studio is closed. YES! I meet people in their homes or at the Des Moines Public Library Central Campus. It's always a great honor to work with someone 1:1 and continue to devote personal attention to his or her goals for yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation.

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

Congratulations to All the Solstice Yogis!
I heard from a number of you who took on the 108 Sun Salutation challenge for the winter solstice! Whoo! Good for you! Now what to do for the vernal equinox in March....

Chair Yoga Students: Clips for You
By popular demand, here are links to home-based chair yoga practices. Some students asked for these specifically, but they're also good options for anyone's home practice when you've been sick (I did chair yoga almost every day during my recent bout with a nasty virus), are at work, or just need gentle movement options. Please give me feedback as to how you like them!

Notice how these videos are from qualified health facilities. This is why I say that 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

"The ultimate success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes our relationships
and the way we live.”

~ T.K.V. Desikachar, Ashtanga Yoga guru

You Asked...Here Are Answers!

Fun with anatomy! Just a little yogic Q & A for you, based on recent conversations:
Q: Can I practice yoga with a cold, the flu, bronchitis, etc...?
A: It depends. While exercise helps your immune system, each one of these conditions often has respiratory distress. From what my teachers taught me and from research, consider the following:
*If you're in the beginning of any of these illnesses, take 2-3 days off from mat yoga and let your body devote energy to healing. Chair yoga practice should be fine as long as you're not contagious (cold/flu), as your classmates probably wouldn't appreciate it. The steady breathing and gentle movement relaxes strained muscles and improves lung function, especially if you're suffering from bronchitis.

*If the cold is shifting from head to throat/chest, the general consensus is that it's okay to return to mat yoga, with an awareness of energy level. Don't stifle coughing during practice: let the "goo" come out and carry the virus out with it! Flu recovery varies, but most people find light exercise helps ease muscle ache, such as yoga, swimming, and walking. And with bronchitis, gentle yoga will be fine, as long as you flow with your particular energy. You may want to end practice a little sooner and spend 5-10 minutes in Final Relaxation.

Also keep in mind that during your illness, practice deep breathing and find moments to sit quietly (when you're not napping!) for 5-10 minutes to prompt your parasympathetic nervous system to calm down. Review last month's newsletter for handy breathing techniques.

Q: Why are my shoulders sometimes sore after yoga?
A: Strengthening the muscles around the shoulders and in the arms happens over time.
*In mat yoga, if you're in a class with a lot of Planks, Downward Dogs, and Full Side Planks (instead of the forearm variation) but your overall musculature isn't ready to have a powerful sequence like that, you're going to feel it the next day. On one hand, you'll be fine in a day or two. On the other hand, repeated yoga sequencing like that may strengthen some people, but aggravate others. Also, if you only practice yoga once a week, you're constantly going back to the proverbial drawing board with this. Find time to work in another session where you only do a handful of shoulder-active poses, if any; or work on strength training outside of yoga.

*In chair yoga, people often feel fatigue in the shoulder muscles if they've been "worked" in rotation or lengthening that's not part of their everyday routine. Again, consistency in practice provides gradual progress. Also consider pacing movements during class--not quite as wide, or long, or vigorous--until conditions improve.

Q: I still have trouble knowing when to inhale and exhale in poses. How do I remember?
A: This is a super easy answer! Remember:
*Inhales are for opening and lengthening.
*Exhales are for deepening, such as in a fold or a twist.

Now, as with most things in yoga, there are varying schools of thought on what poses require which. I kind of go with this: the diaphragm is a curved muscle, like a dome. (It's actually an organ, but we'll talk about that another time.) Attached to your lower ribs, it separates your lungs from your digestive system.

*When you inhale, it contracts and moves into the lungs and expands the rib cage.
*When you exhale, it relaxes, returning the ribs to proper positioning.

So it makes sense when you open up in postures such as Triangle, Shoulder Roll I, Side Plank, and so on, you inhale to move into position of the pose, as your rib cage expands--then exhale as you settle into it. And when you fold or twist, such as Forward Fold, Supine Twist, or Seated Revolved Twist, you exhale as you set up, as the relaxed diaphragm helps the turning motion and releases breath--then inhale once in the pose is established.

Again, there are varying schools of thought on this (inhaling on a forward step-through like Lunge or exhaling on a step back, for example) but for the most part, the above works well for most practices.


How can your yoga practice improve your life? This month, give yourself space to explore and find out. Thank you for sharing your practice with all of us!





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