What is Integrative Yoga?

Have you checked out Sync’s Integrative Yoga class yet? It’s offered on Tuesday nights at 7:15 p.m. (new time, starting in April). Integrative Yoga is the brainchild of Charles Gaby, and today we are exploring what it is and why it works.

Charles

After nearly 30 years of counseling/training practice Charles now consults for schools, businesses and individuals in creating wellbeing. Integrative Yoga is a hybrid experience of traditional yoga with current knowledge of human consciousness including recent insights in the neurobiology of emotion.

Intrigued? Here’s more in Charles’ own words.

Q: According to the description, the goal of this practice is “living from the inside-out.” What does that mean, exactly?

A: “Living from the inside-out” is my way of talking about the experience of an unfiltered life. Most of us learn early on that we must hide our true selves. Patterns are established that become automatic. Sometimes we have to do a lot of work to free ourselves, but there is way to move more quickly toward wellbeing. We can do this through a practice of recovering and re-integrating the authentic sensual experience.

Q: How is this class different from the other yoga classes Sync offers?

A: Integrative Yoga involves traditional asanas that impact areas of the body that have been clinically found to improve the management and relief of anxiety. The other main differences involve practices for returning flexibility and balance to components of consciousness, including emotion, memory, anticipatory images and sensation.

Q: If I’m new to yoga, is this class good for me?

A: Integrative Yoga is an excellent experience for beginners. All of the asanas are accessible to people who are new to yoga.

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Ayurveda Basics (Guest Post)

ayurveda

This Saturday from 12:30-3:30 p.m., Kirsten Burch will lead an intensive workshop at Sync Yoga & Wellbeing focused on the sister science to yoga, Ayurveda. Ayurveda provides an outline of who we are and how we got here. The workshop will offer tips on diet, routine and lifestyle that will help support our unique constitution for optimal wellbeing.

Click here to read an article Kirsten wrote that will dive deeper into the topic of Ayurveda. You can also take a quiz to begin to determine your dosha, or mind-body type.

Register in advance to save $10! We hope to see you on Saturday.

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About the Author: 

Kirsten began studying ParaYoga in 2013 and was initiated into the tradition of Himalayan Masters in October 2014. She continues her training at the Himalayan Institute and as a student of the ParaYoga Masters program. She has earned specialties in Yoga for Anxiety & Depression and Yoga4Cancer.

Kirsten is the owner of Living Yoga Dallas, a certified Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor, and a member of the Modern Widow’s Club. She provides prviate yoga, meditation and ayurveda counseling, and teaches public classes at Sync Yoga & Wellbeing.

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Yoga & Illness (Guest Post)


melody-stanford

At the beginning of 2016, I was a vegetarian enjoying tennis and yoga several times per week. Sync was my yoga home and social life. As an early retiree of 57, I had lots of hobbies, was financially set, and had a healthy marriage. Leonidas, my husband, still worked. We couldn’t imagine anything disrupting our bliss.

In February of that year, I went for a colonoscopy after noticing occasional blood in the stool since December 2015. I wasn’t tired in the least. The news came back, “You have Stage IV colon cancer.” I sat there in disbelief. They must have mixed my CT scan up with someone else’s. It simply wasn’t possible. It would take as few weeks for it to sink in enough for me to cry.

I started chemo within two weeks, because my liver tumors were so large and pervasive that I was inoperable. I went to chemo, thinking it was a long shot, only because my husband and sister deserved some effort on my part. But, didn’t see how I could keep it up after the first treatment, and secretly wished I were off the hook. In my skeptical mind, Stage IV was a death sentence.

After the first infusion, I went to the free psychologist at UT Southwestern, who I am pretty sure was there specifically to buck up the numerous scaredy-cats. I wanted him to help me feel better about throwing in the towel, or to sticking with treatment.

“I’m so glad you came to see me when you did. I understand your reluctance, but one thing you don’t want to leave this world with is regret.” I asked him how he meant this, to which he answered, “Many people decide, ’I’m not going to undergo chemo!! That’s poison!’ After a few months, the symptoms of the cancer start to really show up. At which point they go back to their oncologist saying, ‘Doctor, I made a mistake. I changed my mind. I’m ready to undergo chemo,’ and the doctor replies, ‘I am so sorry; however, it is too late. It won’t do any good.’”

This chat got my attention. I needed to figure out (1) how to manage the side effects of chemo by reading pamphlets and books and following directions; and (2) what tools I could use to mitigate the chemo with things that were already in my tool chest: specifically yoga.

Ahimsa (Do No Harm)

I know a lot of people who are ill cannot do yoga. However, since I had been practicing since 1990, my body was, up to this point, trained to do yoga daily. If I went a week without it, the aches and pains of living and working automatically showed up. I whined to the therapist, “I don’t even know how I got this! I’m a yogi! I don’t even eat meat! I’ve spent years living in such a way as to avoid this sort of thing!”

He replied, “Your lifestyle up to this point didn’t prevent you from coming down with cancer. However, your lifestyle may very well save your life. There are many studies done on cancer patients and exercise, and those who exercise do much better.”

“You mean, they get to live longer?” I asked.

“No. They get to live.”

Another attention-grabber. My mother had died rapidly from cancer, and I remembered her going from the chair, to the couch, to the bed, and to the grave in less than six months. I did not want to succumb to the temptation of “giving in to the couch.”

He continued, “You’re going to feel like crap anyway, whether you are walking, sitting, or lying down. You may as well walk.”

Yoga While Undergoing Treatment

I kept up my yoga schedule at Sync. I would go when I felt nauseous, fatigued, crampy, dehydrated, and depressed. I used yoga to flush out the chemo by doing a lot of twists, and always came out of class feeling much closer to normal.

I had to get over my fear of other people’s sniffles. I might move away from them, but the bottom line was that my coming to class was more important than not catching germs, even though my immune system was shot. I was very open with my teachers and classmates about the cancer, and on top of the detoxing from the postures, I received endless love and support from my Sync family.

I worked out while wearing a chemo pump (truly going above and beyond) and we all got used to it early on. I simply didn’t allow myself to come up with excuses for staying away. I knew other people might be allowed a permission slip to skip class after a giant nose bleed in the car on the way to Sync, but I had to hold myself to a higher standard. Being easy on myself wasn’t going to get me through this. Being tough might. 

Even after undergoing abdominal surgery in October and December, I continued gentle postures in the hospital bed (listening to my body to make sure I didn’t overstretch.) Once out of the hospital and released to drive, I returned to practicing at Sync by doing gentle warmups and meditating. Basically, I listen to the teacher conducting class and picture the poses in my head until I fall asleep.

Where I am Now

Throughout the year, my response to chemo was dramatic. I thanked my oncologist, who replied, “It’s not me, Melody, it’s you. If it were up to me, all my patients would be doing as well as you. And they’re not.”

I can only say the secret ingredient was yoga.

The tumors shrank and died, and in December they took out two-thirds of my colon and removed seven tumors from the liver. They removed 40 lymph nodes, of which three were still “live” (cancerous). I will have to continue chemo for probably six months.

Instead of a two- to three-year prognosis, I’m looking at decades. I can’t wait to be able to get into warrior one or a twist, but my new mantra is, “Don’t get in any kind of hurry.” This has always been a marathon, and, as long as I can walk around the block or come to class, I am moving forward.

About the Author:
Melody Stanford is a member of Sync Yoga & Wellbeing. She is an inspiration to all of us, and we celebrate her and thank her for sharing her story!

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When the Heat is On (Guest Post)

brice

As I stepped into this tremendously hot room barefooted, I was carrying the stress and
concerns of my world on my shoulders. My ministry & nonprofit initiatives were looking faint. Business goals seemed uncertain and delayed with galaxies between myself and their completion. My finances moved out of my bank account home to reside in the accounts of bill collectors. And, it seemed as if the world had slowly chewed me up and spit me out like sunflower seeds. Life had taken me by the throat and all I can do was gasp for air.

Entering into the yoga studio was an opportunity to take a break from my world.So as we moved through our flow, heaps of sweat began to flood my mat. At one point, I started to think that I would need a mop or to call the rescue guard to prevent my fellow yogis
from drowning!

Once I embraced the sweat, the intensity of the practice began to increase and I started to think that I didn’t need any more pressure. As I contemplated walking out, the words of my instructor showered over me like I was in a rain forest, “What is your practice
saying to you?”

At this point, I began to listen to my practice as my practice was teaching me some principles I needed to apply for the current climate I was living in. If my practice had an audible voice, it would say:

Breathe!
Yoga provides a safe place to practice breathing. The practice of breathing begins before
you enter into your flow. Whether you start your practice in child’s pose, in crossed – legged pose, or in any other soft position, this is the time for you to find your inhale & exhale. As you begin to move through your flow, sometimes the ferocity of your practice can lead you away from the sweet inhale and exhale of your breath. Once you recognize that you have lost sight of your breath, do whatever it takes for you to find it – even if it means returning back to the soft and gentle position.

Dismiss your ego
In a heated flow or in any yoga practice, the temptation is to “perform” and to keep up
with the momentum of the class, even at the cost of ignoring what your body is trying to tell you. One thing that helps me when my ego begins to surface is to remind myself that everyone is focused on their own practice, not mine. In other words, do not try to impress anyone because no one is looking at you, anyway. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Yoga is a safe place to be vulnerable and care for self. Kiss your ego goodbye.

Take a break
If you begin to lose your breath, get tired, or even get frustrated, it is OK to stop for a
moment and step away from the flow. Taking a break provides an opportunity for you to find your breath, collect yourself, and listen to your practice. Taking a break is a healthy reminder that we are only human with perceived limitations to be tested and necessary boundaries to be respected. The more we practice, take breaks when necessary, and progress in our practice, our limitation will extend beyond our imagination.

Smile & laugh
Though at times yoga can be intense, an ongoing practice will afford one the courage to
smile. I remember the first time I attempted to practice crow, I immediately backed away
because of fear. But as I continued to practice yoga and realized how safe it was to try new
things, I attempted a crow pose and almost face planted. All I and my instructor could do was smile and laugh. Though yoga has moments where we find ourselves to be meditative and focused on our practice, it is also OK to smile and laugh – especially when you’re about to fall from a balancing move.

Find delight in yourself & the practice.
Sometimes in hot yoga I would think to myself, “what in the world am I doing here?” Then I would answer, “just keeping it clean,” which then leads me to laugh at myself, all by myself in front of people who do not have a clue as to why I am laughing. So, smile and take yourself lightly.

Be thankful
When you reach the end of your practice, whether it is in your savasana resting pose or
your cross-legged meditation pose, this is the time for the ingredients of your practice to come together. This is the moment to express thanksgiving to yourself, the practice, and the community of yogis that are making this world, your world, our world a better place. As a community of yogis, this attitude of gratitude does not lay on our mats, but walks with us through sunny and rainy days. When we carry the light that is within us into the world, we demonstrate to our community an alternative perspective and approach to the various climates we are faced with daily. So be thankful for yourself, your practice, and the community of change agents.

Conclusion
These principles are not just to be used in the studio – they also help us practice being
loving human beings in our world. Imagine a world where humans practice breathing,
dismissing the toxic aspects of our ego, taking breaks, smiling/laughing, and having an attitude of gratitude. As Louis Armstrong once said, “What a wonderful world this will be!”

The light in me honors and recognizes the light in you, friends. Namaste!

About the Author: 

Steven Brice practices yoga at Sync, where he took the class that inspired this post.
Steven is a proud New Yorker who loves his family and friends. He is a pastor, professor,
entrepreneur, a committed volunteer for social causes, and a Yogi. He is an introvert that loves people and loves to laugh and have fun.

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Meditation Workshop on June 16: Detox Your Nervous System

meditation bowl courtney

This is a guest blog post from Courtney Pinkerton, who will lead our meditation workshop on Thursday, June 16 from 7-9 p.m. The theme is “How to Create Your Life-Giving Meditation Practice.”

Register now ($25 in advance, $35 at the door).

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The big aha moment came for me several summers back after hearing a meditation author describe the practice as a “detox for the nervous system.”

ChaChing! Yes, please.

For whatever reason, after years of being a “sensitive” person, I could really hear that description of meditation as an invitation. And something within my reach that I could do to take care of myself.

As we get closer to the workshop, here’s a tip: tune into your desire. The clearer you are on why you want to start or deepen your meditation practice, the stronger your commitment will be as you create this new habit.

My secondary reason for starting a daily practice (which is pretty much one of my core motivations for everything) is that I want to feel good. Happy even. I know that it is not realistic to feel shiny + light in every moment, but I had the sense that I could be way happier way more of the time. This turned out to be true.

In fact, happy has become a sort of base line for me – a shift I credit almost entirely to finding a meditation practice that nourishes me daily. I still fall off the happiness wagon, but meditation helps me reconnect to Source. And voila! The happiness reemerges from its hiding place. (I think it might have been close by all the time, watching me with compassion as I push and struggle.)

One of my favorite meditation teachers, Sharon Salzberg, says that our desire to be happy is rightful and noble. (At least that is what I remember her saying at the workshop. I was blissed out at the time, so this may not be verbatim.)

I love that language.

She also says “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” (Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.)

Which is exactly what meditation trains our brain to do. To place and hold attention.

And of course being happy is never all about you. Your happiness is contagious. It is one of the most direct ways you serve your community.

So whatever you desire — to be happy, to have peace inside your body + mind, to be more present to your family — the more conscious you are of what motivates you, the more you will enjoy playing with these meditation practices. And you will know by the fruit in your life when you discover a meditation routine that is a great fit for you.

Join us for the workshop at Sync Yoga & Wellbeing to Create Your Own Life-Giving Meditation Practice on Thursday June 16th from 7-9 p.m. At the event you’ll also learn about a way to continue honing your meditation throughout the summer.

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Learn more about Sync’s Spring Retreat

Relationship retreat

Are you curious about Sync’s Spring Retreat, scheduled for April 22-23? Here’s some information from Charles about what to expect.

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One of the unavoidable aspects of being is our experience of being in a web of relationships.  And though every person’s web is slightly different, we are all shaped by the dynamics of these relationships.

Sometimes we hold each other up, and sometimes we hold each other back. Wellbeing is not a solitary endeavor. But to be good in relationships, to be a good partner, requires that we do our personal work of developing consciousness.

That doesn’t mean we have to become perfect. All of us have our own quirks and flaws that make us who we are.

 As Shel Silverstein put it,

 “there are no perfect people

were old enough to know

so stay around and love me

and watch the flowers grow.”

The beautiful thing about being in relationship to others is that it provides the most significant and re-current opportunities to discover what is and isn’t working in our nature. This is especially true for long-term intimate relationships.

You don’t have to spend years listening to people to recognize that there are a few issues common to most dysfunctional relationships. Even a casual observer will begin to notice:

  •  Intimacy brings conflict, if for no other reason than the way closeness brings us more in touch with our differences.
  • Defensiveness in the midst of conflict destroys intimacy as we lose our empathy striving to win or defend.
  • Most conflict and most of the ways that we deal with our conflicts are expressions of emotional scripting unique to each person.
  • The more a person understands their own scripts the more they can walk through the moments of conflict mindfully.

There is a path for relationships that is new and evolving. It involves emotional transparency coupled with mindfulness. It is an avenue of great passion, in which conflict serves to create deeper intimacy rather than diminish it.

The key to all of this is a special kind of self-awareness combined with some insights into how we can better communicate. Reading a book on emotional intelligence won’t give you this. Only a thorough exploration of your own emotional dynamics can open the door.

That’s what we’ll be doing in the spring retreat. Will be doing the personal work required to create mindfulness in our relationships.

Sign Up for Sync’s Spring Retreat

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Do you lead with your head, heart or gut?

Here’s a guest blog post from meditation teacher, Courtney Pinkerton, who leads Monday night meditation. Starting Monday, Feb. 8 at 6:45 p.m., we will embark on our February Focus on Mindfulness & Meditation. Will you join us?

Culturally, we tend to value the mind as “the” center of intelligence. Yet there is also an intelligence of the heart (emotional intelligence) and an intelligence of the body (instinct and intuition.)

pink balloon

We each lead with one of these centers of intelligence and underutilize another (this habit or filter for life relates to our personality.)

With conscious attention we can touch and quicken each center and learn to draw in the resources they offer us. Here is a brief case study from my life of how this plays out.

As someone who leads with the heart (and backs that up with a lot of busy thinking!) I need to prioritize practices which ground me in my body, like acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga, and physical exercise. They root me and connect me to body wisdom– without which I feel overly vulnerable and untethered — like a heart balloon on a string blown about by the strong gusts of other people’s emotions or preferences.

Often my body’s language is a corrective for my regular habits (which typically orient around getting sh*t done and making sure everyone is feeling good along the way. And most importantly, that they like me!!)

Today, right at this very moment my body is saying: “Stop typing. You are hungry from headstands this morning. Go eat lunch.”

So I will tend to that directive soon.

Body wisdom is also teaching me to set firmer boundaries in leadership roles—especially around people who normally would drain my energy. In these moments my body says, and I quote: “You can work with challenging people… but you don’t have to be a gooey gummy bear while you do it! Feel the ground beneath your feet and draw strength from a deeper source.” I can also draw from my head center and be strategic about when and how I communicate rather than rushing in relationally and hoping we can all just work it out as friends.

Now each of us is on an individual journey. And those with personalities that typically lead with the head or body will find different practices will help bring about more interior balance among the three centers, such as getting in touch with the tenderness and vulnerability of their hearts, or consulting their mental center to get clarity on next steps.

We often have so many more inner resources than we realize because it requires us to lean out of habitual patterns (and neural pathways) to even realize they are there!

Do you lead with your head, heart or gut?

Can you close your eyes and tune in to the other two centers?

It is a wonderful practice to simply get curious about what might they have to teach you. And if you would like to learn more about your three centers of intelligence and how to draw from them to boost your resiliency in the face of challenges, join me Monday nights in February for a special meditation series at Sync:

Feb 8 Week one: body/intuition.

Feb 15 Week two: heart/relational knowing.

Feb 22 Week three: head/clarity.

Feb 29 Week 4: bringing it all together/resilience.

Warmly, Courtney Pinkerton

PS Not sure your dominant center of intelligence or Enneagram personality? Join us for a special Enneagram workshop on Thursday March 3, 7-9PM . If you attend 4 or more meditation classes in February you get to bring a friend for free!

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About Courtney
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney regularly teaches on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached through her website:www.courtneypinkerton.com.

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