Monday, October 31, 2011

Yang-Yin Class Re-cap

Yang-Yin class was another great time. Kristin and I co-teach this class about twice a year at Yoga North. It's one hour of Vinyasa followed by one hour of Yin. Folks seem to really enjoy the combination and the double-length class.

I've put up some pictures below and there are more from class on my Facebook page:

We plan to offer this class again in February. Watch Yoga North's website for details.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

The below article was written by guest blogger, Allison Gamble. She says,

Prenatal yoga is the relatively new concept of practicing yoga to benefit the health of a pregnant mother and her in-utero child. While many women practice yoga to reduce stress, stay active, or practice religion, the first studies on the effectiveness of prenatal yoga have just begun to emerge. Current research from medical and psychology degree programs suggests prenatal yoga may be beneficial in reducing depression, improving sleep, reducing pain, and lessening birth complications.

Prenatal depression is a common condition associated with a number of negative symptoms and outcomes for mothers and infants. While treatment of prenatal depression is critical, many mothers-to-be avoid antidepressants, naturally concerned about taking drugs during pregnancy.

Prenatal yoga offers a drug-free alternative therapy. Yoga improves physical, mental, and spiritual health through controlled breathing, meditation, and specific posturing of the body. Because of its lower risks and natural basis, many pregnant women may prefer prenatal yoga to synthetic interventions for depression.

A study in the journal Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care suggests prenatal yoga could be a promising option for treating mild to moderate feelings of depression during pregnancy. According to the study's characterization, prenatal yoga is "particularly gentle in nature and emphasizes techniques to help women ease their labor and birth experience, build comfort with their changing body, and develop a strong bond with the infant."

The researchers also note yoga has an inherent positive force in that it simply seeks to enhance well-being, rather than treat a disorder, by emphasizing a whole body approach. Because prenatal yoga is nonverbal, and requires no therapist, yoga may better suit women who are uncomfortable openly discussing emotional or health problems.

Prenatal yoga also has the benefit of being relatively inexpensive, especially compared to drug treatments for depression. Yoga is already widely practiced around the world, and specialized prenatal programs have followed as its popularity has grown. You can also find plenty of prenatal yoga videos.

A study in Biological Research For Nursing Pregnancy also suggested parental yoga may help improve sleep in some pregnant women. Pregnancy invokes vast hormonal and biological changes, combined with the profound emotional adjustments that occur in anticipation of childbirth and parenthood. Among other resulting symptoms, many women experience sleep disturbance, which can also contribute to unstable mood and other issues.

The findings from the study are the first to suggest prenatal yoga in the second trimester can improve sleep as pregnancy progresses. Overall the study found that healthy women in the second trimester experienced better sleep with fewer awakenings and less wake time after going to sleep. These results are significant because doctors typically expect sleep will worsen as a pregnancy advances. Sleep during pregnancy is valuable as it may indirectly contribute to labor outcomes. Reduced time in bed and increased wake time during the night have been associated with longer labor and increased risk of cesarean birth in first-time mothers.

Various suggestions have been made as to why yoga helps reduce depression. The simplest may be that yoga helps to increase physical activity level and promotes mindfulness. Physical activity has been shown to improve sleep, and exercise might also be an effective preventive treatment strategy for back pain related to pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a stressful and taxing period of time for most women. Mothers want to ensure they're doing all they can to keep themselves and their babies healthy. Prenatal yoga is a great natural way to maintain health and well-being during pregnancy without recourse to drugs. Current research promisingly suggests prenatal yoga may help with prenatal depression, improve sleep, reduce pains and aches, and promote a healthy birth when the time comes.

Allison Gamble has been a curious student of psychology and its intersection with yoga since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing with

Monday, October 17, 2011

Free Yoga Nidra Practice

Yoga Journal is offering a free Yoga Nidra Practice by Richard Miller. YJ says,

Yoga nidra is the practice of conscious deep sleep. It's extremely effective for reducing anxiety and stress, and for facilitating deep relaxation. Practice this yourself with this 13-minute audio recording, and then share it with your class.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Schedule Update: Yoga Nidra, Yang Yin and Restorative Stations

Lots of opportunities for Restorative Yoga this month.

I am teaching these 3 classes at Yoga North. Please visit their site or call them at 218-722-YOGA to sign up. Each class generally fills to capacity so I recommend that you sign up early.

Thursday, Oct 13 is Yoga Nidra/Deep Relaxation: Class will consist of a variety of relaxation techniques including guided meditation & imagery, breathwork, and restorative postures. In the state of deep relaxation, tension is released from the body on a physical level, and the mind completely switches off. The relaxation response brings your system into balance. When practiced regularly, you will reduce your everyday stress levels and boost your feelings of wellbeing. You will also build deeper awareness and bolster your health with deep relaxation. All levels welcome.

Saturday, Oct 22 is Yang-Yin: A combo class I teach with Kristin about 2 times per year - once in the fall and once in the spring. We start out the class with an invigorating hour of Vinyasa (by Kristin) and follow up with a restorative hour of Yin (by me). Some yoga experience is helpful.

Thursday, Oct 27 is Restorative Stations: A relaxing, meditative class which uses props to allow a gentle opening in the body. Most poses are experienced while laying or sitting on the floor. I set up the room before hand with 4-5 stations. To see examples of class flow plans click here. All levels welcome.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Video of Camp Amnicon's Hermitage Cabins

Whenever we do a retreat people often ask what the Hermitage cabins are like. There are two Hermitages at Camp Amnicon and generally the teachers stay in them. They are available to rent for personal retreats throughout the year (very reasonable rates). I usually do a little group tour while we are there but this time I also took a video.

Recapping the Return to Center Fall Retreat

Last January during the Winter Reflection Retreat many people expressed an interest in doing a two day retreat instead of (or in addition to) the one day retreat. Molly and I took this to heart and booked reservations at Camp Amnicon for both a 2-day fall retreat (Oct 2011) and a 1-day winter retreat (Jan 2012).

We just completed the 2-day fall retreat and I am now wondering, "How will we ever go back to the 24-hour winter retreat? How will we have enough time?" Well, I'll worry about that later. For now, a few pictures of the lodge, the hermitage cabins where Molly and I sleep, and the retreat group all together in the dining hall with Bonnie the Cook and Kelly the Camp Host in the back.

The entrance to the lodge.

Inside the lodge, the circle is set (until we go wild with all of our yoga props).

The "Sunrise" hermitage cabin (Molly stays in "Sunset"). The cabins are available to anyone for a very reasonable rate.

The inside of the "Sunrise" hermitage. So sweet.

The retreat group in the dining hall, mouths watering in anticipation of Bonnie's delicious cooking.

Overall, another wonderful retreat with fantastic weather, great learning and sharing, fun hikes, canoes and campfires, and much relaxing and eating. Thank you everyone for showing up and being present. Until next time, Sara Duke and Molly McManus

ps1 - Look for more pictures and video on Facebook:
ps2 - Look for future retreat dates at