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The Space Between

The Space Between

Fall Equinox, the season of balance. The holding of opposites between the illuminated light and the dark night. It’s a season of sustaining the awareness that light and dark are needed for our inner balance as we move away from the sun in our western hemisphere. Hard to believe summer is coming to a close, and Labor Day once again reminds of us of our outer duties returning to school or work. And for many adventures that present new frontiers of acceptance.

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As for me, when this newsletter comes out, I would have dropped my daughter off for her freshman year at college and returned home to an emptier house. As I write this, I am sitting with the full awareness that the energy will be different, and I, too, will be venturing into a new beginning. Seasons change, life goes forward, and the beauty of living is to appreciate it all as one huge wonderful ride!

So I’m taking this opportunity to reflect on how sweet the journey has been, be it way too fast. I yearn to slow down and truly appreciate the hours spent being her mom. Yes, I can miss her. I know that parenting is never over; it just shifts. I am willing to parent with a long extension cord, and not a smothering grip, as I transition into my new role as parent to an adult. When do we become an adult? I sometimes question myself ever reaching that milestone even as my chronological age is given the title of senior citizen!

I’ll keep questioning my learned habits and patterns, stay open to possibility that I’m a work in progress, and know that life is always presenting new opportunities to learn and thrive. I will embrace change as a gift of staying open to a new season.

When we reach an ending, we must be able to accept the gift of grieving. The intellect fights it but the soul demands it. Personally, I know I will moan, but that primal sound is my ability to absorb the opposite which is my joy. The joy of loving so deeply. The wonder of letting go and allowing the new to come in. What is being presented now? What awaits?


Our Global Yoga Therapy Day back on August 14 was a huge success! Over 25 students came in throughout the day. Sharing individually with a private therapist, they each received a personal practice and were able to feel connected in a heartfelt experience. The day was filled with hope as we shared a collective space for healing.

By offering the various tools of yoga, we find new ways to return to a state of balance as we go deeper into the more refined ways to calm the nervous system, and appreciate the ability to focus the thoughts. This is our gateway for the tools of meditation.

Like all good habits, meditation requires regular effort to make it a part of a healthy lifestyle:

  • the ability to live life with greater creativity and increasing patience and tolerance

  • the ability to reduce our inner frustrations and negative emotions as we gain new perspectives on stressful situations.

Please continue to join our year long commitment to meditating on the heart by sharing with me on Monday evenings as we practice together. Anyone can join as I guide a practice at 7:30 in the small room. My commitment is to stay balanced and go into the fall season with light and hope and lots of hugs.

And remember that all our wonderful teachers offer their profound wisdom as they guide you into a practice, by sharing the teachings that help cultivate and inspire living in our vibrant, youthful enthusiaam for the path unknown.

Be willing to be present to what is being going on in the NOW as we embrace this new season in all it’s glory of endings and beginnings. My favorite poet, David Whyte, expresses it beautifully, “inside everyone is a great shout of joy waiting to be born.”


Blessings,

LJ

Teacher Feature: Mary Jean Larson

Teacher Feature: Mary Jean Larson

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Meet our newest teachers, Mary Jean Larson, CYT 200!

Mary Jean started practicing yoga in 1984 with Becky Love at the Lawson YMCA in Chicago. It was undoubtedly clear to her right then that yoga would be a life long practice because of the inner peace & better quality of life it gave her with the asanas being an added bonus.

Always knowing she would someday be a certified yoga instructor, MJ received her 200-hour yoga teacher training certification this past year with her dear friend and teacher LJ at YAF.

MJ has practiced yoga at YAF since 1998 when Laura Jane opened in Downers Grove. She also enjoys several workshops that YAF offers giving her the chance to practice with Rod Stryker and other world renowned teachers.

Here are some fun facts about Mary Jean in her own words:

If you could pick one song to play every time you entered a room it would be...
“Feel it still” but I’d probably get sick of it if it was played every time I walked into a room. Ha.Ha. Basically anything with a good up beat.

My favorite animal is.. a cat

Guilty Pleasure…Watching TV

Pigout food…Cheese & crackers


Last show I binge watched….Big Little Lies

Good book I’m reading…Educated

Best Movie I’ve seen lately…A Star is Born

Favorite place...The beach and mountains

If I could do anything for the next 30 minutes, I would ...Go for a walk

What would you like to do more of? Yoga

What would you like to do less of? Stress

Greatest inspiration…My family

In a perfect world, we would communicate via…Face to face

Who is/are your yoga role models? Laura Jane and many more

A pose I struggle with…The arms in Gomukhasana/Cow face - can’t get me hands clasped right now

A pose I love and why…Headstand, it has multiple benefits. My favorite is the feeling of the blood flowing to my head and face

What is the biggest reason you teach yoga? To deepen my practice and share what I believe will benefit any and everyone

I want my students to...Walk away from my class feeling their best mentally & physically, and I want them to tell their friends to come back with them because they loved it so much

What 3 words best describe you…optimistic, sociable & enthusiastic

Find Mary Jean on the drop-in schedule on Mondays at 4:30pm for Vinyasa Flow – starting Sept 9. All are welcome!

Say Yes to Life with Year Long Meditation

Say Yes to Life with Year Long Meditation

We know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air. Air is all around us, and when we take the oxygen into our lungs we are saying, YES to life. The lungs that lie round the heart, with the air passing through them, envelope the heart. Thus, breathing is a natural way to touch the heart.

And so, having collected your mind within you, lead it into the channel of breathing through which air reaches the heart. With this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the sweet space where your true self rests and to open the gateway to something more profound than your intellect. Open to love, your intrinsic true nature. This is the gift of meditation!

Meditation is the conscious refined mind linked to this true nature. Bringing our roaming overactive thoughts into direct awareness of the grace of breath opens the door for wonder. To go beyond our daily habit of linking to all the distractions of mindless noise and instead link to the breath, which allows us to enter into a sanctuary of inner peace. This is the greatest tool of practicing yoga. —Yes, yoga offers the tool of meditation. It is a primary tool; and yet, everyone just believes it’s all about asana.

I am amazed when students call the studio and ask if we teach meditation. All yoga is bringing the busy mind into a refined steady place of focusing. it’s a practice which takes time and commitment. We can all benefit from great physical practice of strong postures, but that’s not the goal of yoga. The intention is for the agitation of mind to be able to move into a direct focus, and be able to sustain that focus, by first relaxing the tensions from gross to subtle. The beauty of practice offers a shift in the nervous system so the physical body is not being driven by the adrenals and the ego’s learned habits of avoiding being present.

In today’s busy and over extended world, we need all the tools we can gather to create a lifestyle that is not moving us into more suffering. Tools to help us ease our stresses and find more joy in being our best self. As a community of like minded souls, I am concerned that we are moving into directions filled with negative thoughts. I know that fighting or arguing with the outer world can only lead to more frustration and we lose the sense of feeling empowered to make greater changes in the world for kindness and inspiration of hope.

Therefore, Yoga Among Friends is thrilled and honored to be included in the year long commitment of meditation and joining of intentions for a better global world view with The Himalayan Institute and my dear teacher, Pandit Rajamni Tigunait. Whether you are just beginning a meditation practice or have been a dedicated student for many years, I’m passionate that our combined contribution of making a daily practice will have a huge ripple effect that will extend pass our small community.

The Year Long Meditation initiative is a global endeavor, and the shifting consciousness from hate to love is what must be felt as possible. I want to invite you to join in. If you are inspired to join on your own please sign up here and you can start tracking your own practice. You can also learn more here.


We can bring positive change by our collective consciousness expanding and benefiting all of us with a mutual understanding, wisdom and compassion with unconditional love. I know this to be true! And I am so passionate that we cannot stop hatred with anger, but with the light of bringing our hearts into a greater positive direction.

Meditation heals and let’s start here. Marina offers the Meditative Flow class as her Sunday offering, and Lisa teaches Meditation for Adults and Teens on Tuesday evenings. But know that all our classes bring us into reflection and breath awareness. I will also be starting in September a meditation class on Monday nights at 7:30pm in the small studio as my commitment offering.

In addition to meditation, I am excited to announce that on Wednesday, August 14, we will be participating in the first Global Yoga Therapy Day! I and three other C-IAYT yoga therapists will be on hand from 9am-4pm to offer FREE one-on-one yoga therapy sessions of 30 min each to those who have never tried yoga therapy. Each participant will gain a better understanding of and experience first hand the work of a yoga therapist. You’ll learn how we help assess and create a healthy practice to remove pain and suffering from physical injuries, emotional mood imbalances, and the suffering from autoimmune diseases. Please sign up for free sessions on our website. If you can’t make it, check out the live event on Facebook.

All of us at YAF extend our heartfelt appreciation to all of you for continuing to support us as a place of healing hearts. I personally know that we need community now more than ever in this ever-changing landscape of technology and corporations that leave us without the feeling of belonging. As we journey together on the path of promoting better thoughts, let’s rejoice that we are fortunate enough to be able to help the sweet earth. Together we are the service of intentional consciousness, and we are even more dynamic together.

Thank you and blessings for saying, YES TO LIFE.

LJ