Not sure why I didn’t share this event and the flyer I made for it on my blog when I was organizing it but better late than never! This was a fun event I helped organize and teach at. It was at my alma mater, Swarthmore College, and had a great turn out. I collaborated with fellow yoga teacher and alumna Hana Lehmann as well as two current students, Amie Chou who is an excellent meditation guide, and Ally Philyaw who led a fantastic restorative yoga session as well as contributed greatly to the yoga philosophy portion of our day. Here’s the handout we distributed to everyone at the beginning of class which has a bit of yoga and Ayurvedic philosophy as well as a dosha test. Now that I’m in Quito, Ecuador, I created this facebook group in order to share more about yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. You can learn about my healing work here: http://estellamiyukibaker.com/healing/
Check out my etsy page to purchase my latest zine on yoga, meditation, art, self-care and social justice
Below is an article Jonah Schwartz wrote after attending the event at Swarthmore College:
Although not one of the best known clubs on campus, the Yoga Club hopes to gain more recognition by starting off the semester with a big event. Current leader, Ally Philyaw, ‘17 worked with Meditation Club leader, Amie Chou, ‘15 and alumni Miyuki Baker, ‘12 and Hana Lehmann, ‘13 to organize a four-hour joint kickoff event last Saturday, September 12. The day was tailored to students’ needs, including a morning meditation and multiple yoga practices, all the while stressing the history and foundations of yoga, making it a practical and learning event. The day ended with a conversation about Ayurveda–a traditional South Asian medicinal system–food, and general self-care over lunch at Sharples.
Intended to provide students with tools to de-stress and take control of their lives, Philyaw hoped the event would also garner visibility for the Yoga and Meditation clubs and draw in new members. “[Another organizer and I] were thinking of ways we could draw people into the club and experience this practice that’s been so important to us.” Lehmann and Baker got in touch with Philyaw and they all decided take advantage of having three certified teachers on campus by hosting a full day event.
After a morning meditation outside of Mephisto’s Lounge led by Chou, the 16 participants moved inside and set up mats, blocks, and other supplies. Before the active practice, an introduction to the history and philosophy of yoga was given. Philyaw, Lehmann, and Baker each contributed to explaining its origin, ashtanga or “eight limbs” (eight yogic guidelines of life), as well as social issues related to yoga and how it is practiced in the West. To give a view of how broad yoga truly is, Philyaw quoted the second yoga sutra, which reads, “Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.”
Then three Pranayama, or breathing techniques, were introduced, each of which achieves a different effect in the body and can be paired with various asanas, poses. For example the dirgha three-part breath, is achieved by filling the belly, the diaphragm, and finally the upper chest and is intended to slow breathing and calm the body and mind.
The main practice was called “Back to school yoga + home practice” and was led by Baker and Lehmann. The focus of this hour-long class was learning to use various poses that have physiological and emotional effects on the body, such as backbends to open the heart, forward folds to de-stress, self-empowering poses, and poses intended to relieve strained muscles and help with overall alignment. This section allowed participants to “[l]earn about how [one] can use specific postures in yoga to self-heal in and out of a yoga class”.
At the end of the practice, Lehmann led savasana, the corpse pose, while Baker went around to each participant giving a short forehead and neck massage with essential oils. Baker said this was her favorite part of the day. “There’s something so special when I’m teaching about the savasana pose where everything get’s integrated… I love doing the massage because, as long as it’s consensual, it’s something that doesn’t happen too often on a day to day basis, it’s not often that someone you don’t know touches your head. And I know I love it when yoga teachers do that for me… It’s that one on one contact and attention to relaxation is so powerful.” Awjin Ahn, ‘15 also commented on savasana, saying, “I’ve never felt that relaxed, I’d probably say, in my life other than when I sleep.”
The day culminated with a conversation over lunch on Ayurveda, food, and self-care, led by Baker. This, in combination with the philosophy introduction and asana practice, helped to demonstrate that yoga is more than just a workout or physical activity. Yogic practices help people to realize the connection between mind and body, and to adjust their lifestyle accordingly.
Patrick Han, ‘16, reflected on the day saying, “I think my favorite thing was just seeing how much there is in terms of literature and things I want to learn and just wanting to jump into it. Before it seemed a bit overwhelming, but now, with these people it’s a lot easier to know where to start and just take the first step. I feel like that’s the hardest part.”
Thanks to everyone who showed up and I’m looking forward to seeing folks in the spring to coordinate another day-long event.