How Yoga Changes You, Body and Mind

An interview by Yoga One student Stacey Ebert with Yoga One owner and co-founder, Amy Caldwell. 

Amy Caldwell. Photo by Shadow Van Houten

Amy Caldwell. Photo by Shadow Van Houten

As a practicing yogi, I’ve seen and felt the benefits of sharper awareness, greater strength and flexibility, better posture, and overall improved health firsthand. The more than 5,000-year old philosophy encourages a practice of health, wellbeing, and attention. No, you don’t have to flexible. No, it’s not super expensive. Yes, you can practice anywhere. Yes, it offers something for everyone. Never once have I regretted a moment spent on my mat.

To see what someone with more detailed knowledge had to say, I chatted with Amy Caldwell, who along with her husband, Michael, owns Yoga One in San Diego, California. In addition to practicing, studying, and teaching yoga for two decades, Amy has collaborated on the best-selling iYoga Premium for iPad and iPhone. She also leads the annual yoga class aboard the historic USS Midway, is the head teacher for the acclaimed Yoga One Teacher Training, and has twice been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. Here’s what she has to say about yoga and its benefits.

SE: How does the idea of ‘getting out of your own way’ merge with the practice of yoga?

AC: Yoga, an ongoing practice of inner listening, works to find a balance between being grounded and remaining open. These tools help us “get out of our own way” by deeply connecting to our Self (“Self” with a capital S indicates big energy and spirit, a higher self). By the time the student makes it to a yoga class, she has already taken the first pro-active step towards self-care.

SE: How do you encourage students to “take their first steps and then leap?” 

AC: Life happens during our present moments, and the practice of yoga teaches people to consciously participate in those present moments. Students are invited to notice with increasing attention what is happening here and now. The next step is to balance that awareness with relaxing into what is: meeting yourself where you are each and every day, and moving forward from there.

The intentions and tools experienced and developed in a yoga practice carry off the mat into daily life.

Amy Caldwell. Photo by Nancee Lewis

Amy Caldwell. Photo by Nancee Lewis

SE: What are some beginning, advanced, and intermediate actionable steps women can take to lessen fear and add more joy to their life?

AC: Practice self-care. Take a few minutes every day to simply “be” rather than to “do.” This can be going for a walk, a few yoga poses, five minutes of meditation, or really, doing anything at all with the intention of being fully present.

Schedule something weekly that strengthens the muscles of careful listening and being present. This can be as simple as listening to whomever is speaking to you without interruption and with full attention, a yoga or meditation class, or any art form that encourages mindfulness.

Make time for things that bring you joy (for me it can be spending quality time with my family, being in nature or taking a fun dance class). Pay attention to whatever it is that helps you connect to a deep sense of vibrant aliveness and make time to do it! We can all carve out an hour or two a week for our well-being and healthy enjoyment.

Originally published by Stacey Ebert with the title, Get Out of Your Own Way. Read more at Second Chance Travels.
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Life is Fragile: A Yoga Teacher’s Poem

by Amy Caldwell

Life is fragile
enjoy each day
make time to be
grateful
joyful
playful

We know this life is temporary
why not live
like it’s our last day

Be kind
love
see the good
don’t sweat the small stuff
be here now
find a way

All the things we know to be true
but forget because we get busy
and distracted
and afraid
let’s choose to remember
and when we forget,
remember again,
sooner

What would we change if we could
if we can, why not try
if we can’t, how can we find peace
with what is
sometimes terrifying
sometimes heart breaking
one human moment at a time
one moment in time

What is it that helps us remember
our aliveness
our connection to breathing
our power to love completely
just humans being

Life as we know it
could end tomorrow
why not
be
here
now

Mike_Amy-178Head Yoga Teacher and Co-Founder of Yoga One, Amy Caldwell has dedicated herself to the practice, study and teaching of yoga since discovering its joys and benefits in 1997.

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Off The Mat: Lynne Officer

How do yoga teachers feel about their practice? What inspires them to keep teaching and keep practicing yoga? Get to know your Yoga One teachers outside the studio and off the mat. This month’s interview is with Lynne Officer.

1. Why do you practice yoga? 

Yoga helps my body and my heart reset. It amazes me how just a few intentional breaths can make me feel more grounded, connected to myself, and free of the story line going on in my head.

2. What was the most intimidating aspect of your teaching when you first started?

The most intimidating thing was trying to get the words and cues in my head to come out of my mouth. I also felt super nervous when an experienced yogi or another yoga teacher was in class. This nervousness still comes up for me almost 10 years in.

3. What gives you the most joy as a yoga instructor?

It gives me a lot of joy when new people come back. I know how hard it can be to get a yoga practice going in the beginning. I think people are really courageous to show up again and again. 🙂

4. If yoga were a food, car, smell, planet, song, artist, flavor, 

etc…it would be: Whoomp There It Is by Tag Team.

5. What’s your yoga inspiration?

I feel really inspired by the poem The Guest House by Jelaluddin Rumi. It’s been really powerful to think of everything as temporary and something to honor, dark and light.

6. What classes do you teach at Yoga One? 

I teach the Monday evening 5:30 pm Vinyasa Flow Level 1 & 2 class.

You can find our full class schedule here. Om!

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Amy Caldwell at Festival of Yoga San Diego

On June 17th, Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga and Yoga One will celebrate the International Day of Yoga with a festival of yoga in beautiful Balboa Park in San Diego.

Amy Caldwell, master teacher and co-owner of Yoga One, will be leading an all-levels yoga class from 1:30-2:30pm that you won’t want to miss!

This FREE event will take place between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM at Park Blvd on the President’s Way Lawn. Join 500+ yogis for 2 all level community classes, breakout yoga sessions, chanting and music for peace to inspire and empower people of all ages and walks of life.

The event is free, but registration is required. To register please visit: http://festivalofyogasandiego.org

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Yogi Reads: Healing 

by Olivia Cecchettini

Healing 

by David Elliott

“My primary work as a healer is to remind and reconnect people to the power of love.  Self-love is the starting point for anyone seeking healing in their life.” – David Elliott

Summary: Healing provides wonderful inspiration for empathic individuals to embrace and pursue whatever form of healing speaks to them. David Elliott’s matter-of-fact writing makes this book an easy read. Though the work he prescribes – through meditations, worksheets, and journaling – might not be as simple to master. The information Elliott provides about the healing process can help you dive deeper into yourself and better see your patterns and blocks.

This book spoke truth to my soul. When we seek out healing, we must first recognize the pain, addictions, and trauma that require healing. This process might not be for the faint of heart. I believe everything we experience in life can be turned into a tool for growth – but it is hard work to release pain and look for meaning. Elliott’s words felt familiar and safe while I worked my way through his book.

We need healers like Elliott who are ready and willing to ignite the path for others and that’s why I feel his book is so important to share. Healing gives you tools and exercises to dive deep within, to identify old wounds and to care for yourself.

Why I Love It: I believe healing comes in many forms and I’ve witnessed the power of David Elliott’s approach while reading Healing and through the personal testimony of my longtime friend Melodee Solomon. I have always known her as someone with a lot of passion and drive, but I knew there were fears and doubts holding her back from sharing her gifts with the world. As her friend, I knew she was a powerful healer, but she wasn’t yet in touch with this part of herself.

About three years ago, Melodee began taking breath work trainings with David Elliott to expand upon her yoga training. As she went deeper into her studies, I saw a shift occur. She was able to release doubt and see her worth in a way she hadn’t before. Today she offers weekly breath work classes along with monthly workshops all over the United States. I’m not saying one book, one workshop, or even one breath work training will heal you and change your life, but it may start you on the path.

Recommended For: People who wants to experience healing in their life starting right away. We are all born to be healers. Most people barely scratch the surface of their lives, but if you start digging you will uncover so many layers.

As a yoga teacher, one of the most important things I do is hold space for others to awaken in their bodies but also in their minds and spirits. The space where healing occurs can be a supportive group or it can be a book in your hand.

Every teacher needs a teacher; and as I’ve seen in my friend Melodee, David Elliott’s approach creates more leaders and more healers. This is what the world so desperately needs, more people tapping into their purpose and making the entire planet come alive. I invite you to begin today, with love and compassion. Namaste.

Olivia headshotOlivia Cecchettini
Contributing Writer

Olivia’s yoga journey began in 2003. She is certified in Vinyasa, Hatha, and Aerial Yoga and holds a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology. She believes the mind, body, soul connection is sacred and encourages her students explore and expand within their own bodies and consciousnesses.

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Physical Therapy Meets Yoga, an Interview with Nicole Mullins

fullsizeoutput_29e5Nicole Mullins PT/E-RYT is a physical therapist and yoga teacher with over 20 years experience working in orthopedics and seven years in therapeutic yoga. Currently, Nicole is the clinical director at Embody Physical Therapy and Yoga. She will be leading an Intermediate Anatomy Workshop for yoga teachers and experienced students at Yoga One on June 10-11. For more information and to register, go here

Yoga One: Which practice were you introduced to first in your life, physical therapy or yoga? And how long have you been practicing each?

Nicole Mullins: I was introduced to physical therapy long before I was introduced to yoga. Of course I knew yoga existed, I just didn’t have any experience with it or anyone who practiced yoga. I have been a physical therapist for 22 years and have always actively sought out additional training to stay current.

I took my first yoga class 17 years ago, but didn’t really start practicing until about 8 years ago when I jumped into a 200-hour teacher training. From there, I took workshop after workshop to really hone my skills and understanding of yoga.

Yoga made so much biomechanical sense that it soon replaced most of the therapeutic exercise I did with my patients.

YO: How has yoga informed your clinical work in physical therapy?

Nicole: I think the combination of yoga and physical therapy is both revolutionary and uncommon. It is a brilliant marriage that allows me to offer so much more to my patients than I was ever able to before. Yoga is so much more than just asana (the physical exercises). Yoga recognizes the undeniable mind-body connection and how we must address the whole person to affect positive change.

YO: Good alignment is something every yoga student wants to have, but it can be difficult to learn without years of practice or private instruction. If you could teach every yoga teacher and student the biomechanics of one pose, which would it be?

Nicole: There are actually two poses that I think are vital and necessary for everyone! From a purely biomechanical standpoint, I would teach tadasana, or mountain pose. Tadasana is the foundation of all standing poses and so many other yoga poses. Knowing how to find a neutral posture is necessary to be able to safely move into and out of poses and minimize risk of injury or overuse.

From the standpoint of overall well-being, I would choose savasana, or corpse pose. Most of us are unable to truly shut down and let our minds and bodies relax. The purpose of savasana at the end of a yoga practice is to let the nervous system integrate the experience of the physical practice. Learning how to do this properly can be extraordinarily beneficial and healing.

YO: What have you learned recently that really interests you?

Nicole: In addition to studying manual physical therapy and yoga, learning about essential oils and natural healing, I have also been studying osteopathic techniques, including visceral manipulation. “Viscera” refers to our organs. This technique has been around for many years and embodies the concept of treating the whole person. We cannot just address the muscles and joints without considering every other system and structure in the body.

The viscera and their orientation in our body is a crucial component in our ability to move and function with ease. Scar tissue and adhesions from surgery, injury, illness and infection can change an organ’s ability to move naturally. These adhesions are frequently manifested as musculoskeletal injuries, including back and neck pain. Adding this technique to my practice along with yoga and has been truly pivotal.

Learning new techniques and knowledge about the body is what makes me so excited to be a yoga teacher and physical therapist. It’s what makes me even more excited to share what I have learned through teaching so others can grow in their practice as well.

Embody (370 of 404).jpgYO: We’re excited you’re offering an Intermediate Anatomy Workshop at Yoga One, can you share one topic you’ll be covering in depth?

Nicole: The workshop will touch on many topics, but one I consider to be the most important is what constitutes a neutral spinal and pelvic alignment. We will explore the biomechanical relationship between the spine, pelvis, shoulders, and hips. You will learn why the shoulders and hips are cornerstones of a healthy spine and you will experience this in your own body via asana in the training.

YO: That sounds amazing! Who would benefit the most from this type of workshop?

Nicole: This workshop will benefit any yoga teacher or student who wants to understand more about how and why the body moves as it does. This workshop is for anyone who wants a deeper, fuller knowledge of biomechanics and how it applies to yoga in particular.

If you want to be inspired to teach yoga more confidently, excited to share what you will have learned, and ready to see the benefits in your students, please join us.

Intermediate Anatomy Workshop

led by Nicole Mullins at Yoga One
10-hour course, eligible for Yoga Alliance continuing education credits

Saturday June 10th 12:30-6:30pm
Sunday June 11th 12:00-6:00pm

Pre-registeration required: $175 by June 1st / $225 by June 8th (last day to register. No refunds.)

 

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Beyond The Mat: Hannah Rae Block

How do yoga teachers feel about their practice? What inspires them to keep teaching and keep practicing yoga? Get to know your Yoga One teachers outside the studio and off the mat. This month’s interview is with Hannah Rae Block.

1. Why do you practice yoga?

I found the practice of yoga when I first moved to San Diego in 2012 and it became an integral part of my recovery from my eating disorder. For me, the practice cultivated balance and bridged the gap between my body, mind, and spirit. My intention when I practice and teach is to let it flow through me, I want to be carried by the wave, letting go of control and feeling every moment of it.

2. What was the most intimidating aspect of your teaching when you first started?

The most intimidating aspect of my teaching when I first started was standing in front of a community and offering a part of myself through my teaching.

3. What gives you the most joy as a yoga instructor?

I find the most joy as a yoga teacher in the moments of genuine connection and alignment. There is a synchronicity, a space of understanding, a progression, to be a part of that, to be a witness to it, fills me immensely.

4. If yoga were a food, car, smell, planet, song, artist, flavor, etc… it would be: I like yoga =)

5. What’s your yoga inspiration?

To pinpoint one inspiration is hard. I am inspired in so many ways. At the core, my inspiration comes from the desire to share the healing and transformation that I have experienced through yoga with others. The practice is so expansive, there is never an end point, I will never arrive. That is inspiring.

6. What classes do you teach at Yoga One?

I teach a Level 1 and 2 Gentle Flow on Tuesday nights at 7:30pm.

You can find our full class schedule here. Om!

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Yoga One Interview with Locale Magazine

From apple picking in Australia to owning an award-winning family run yoga studio in downtown San Diego, Locale magazine interviewed Yoga One co-founders Amy and Michael Caldwell. Go here to read the full article or keep reading below:

Q: What sets Yoga One apart from the competition? 

MC/AC: We don’t think of other studios or yoga offerings as competition. The more people practicing yoga, the better. However, we do take pride in being a family run studio and treating our teachers and students as family. Award-winning Yoga One has been helping San Diego residents and visitors enjoy healthier and happier lives since 2002. We offer depth of knowledge, integrity and heart.

Q: How did you personally get started in practicing yoga?

MC/AC: Our yoga practice began in an organic apple orchard in Australia in 1997. We had both just quit our careers in the Hollywood music business and set out to explore different cultures and lifestyles. While backpacking around Australia, we picked apples to earn extra money and one night, sore from a 10 hour workday, we did a few poses from a book we were reading. We immediately felt better. Over the next three years of traveling around the world and visiting 15 countries, we got more and more committed to deepening our practice. By the time we arrived in India, we were practicing up to four hours a day with some of the country’s top yoga masters.

Q: What advice would you give to a beginner yogi?

MC/AC: Enjoy the journey. Yoga is like a tool kit that can help enhance your life. You can’t use all the tools effectively at once immediately so take your time to understand the basics and build from there. Find good teachers that you resonate with. And if you want to do the advanced version in any pose, simply lift the corners of your mouth.

Q: What’s an inspiring story that you’ve been able to witness as a yoga instructor?

MC/AC: We just received this email from a student who graduated from our Yoga One Teacher Training course at SDSU:

‘Wow, it’s been six months since I graduated. What prompted this email was an abundant feeling of gratitude. I successfully accomplished my first semester as a teacher at University of San Diego. It went so well, they resigned me for the same curriculum section in the spring and extended an offer to three additional group fitness classes! After a successful semester substituting at SDSU, I’ve also received an offer for my very own group fitness section over the winter break and the upcoming spring semester. I cannot thank you enough for the enriching experience I’ve had both as a student of your training and as a teacher in the community.

The by-product of the Yoga One Teacher Training has been tremendous. The insight to my own personal practice alone has gained so much depth…being a teacher, the smiles, gratitudes, blessings, the positivity I’ve witnessed are sooooo fulfilling, and it wouldn’t have been done without you.’

Q: How does it feel to be listed as one of the top yoga studio in downtown San Diego?

MC/AC: Humbling, but after all, we are named Yoga One!

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Approaching Grief Through Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

an interview with Monique Minahan

Monique is a yoga teacher whose niche is teaching yoga tailored for grief. She’s the mama of a sweet and energetic toddler and last year compiled her many writings on grief and loss into a short book titled “The Unedited Heart.” This year she launched her more expansive project, The Grief Practice, with hopes of shifting the culture around grief globally.

Yoga One: When did you first start teaching yoga in a way that welcomed all the emotions of grief?

Monique: A year ago I approached a local hospice center with a desire to offer a weekly bereavement yoga class. I wanted to offer an approach that grief wasn’t something to fix, but as something to welcome. Grief is often held in the body and yoga guides us back into our physical form, where we can invite the grief to take up space. To surge. To recede. To flow. To be.

Editor’s Note: Go here if you are interested in taking a bereavement yoga class with Monique in Carlsbad, CA.

Yoga One: What does trauma-sensitive mean in your classes?

Monique: Trauma-sensitive means I teach the class in a trauma-informed way, taking into account how the body lodges traumatic experiences and how I, as a yoga teacher, can unknowingly trigger the body’s memory of traumatic experiences. For example, by the words I use or by initiating touch without permission. I teach the students anchoring techniques that they can “hold onto” when their emotions, feelings or memories become overwhelming.

I have tremendous respect for the power of grief whether it is of a traumatic nature or not. The first thing I say in every class is that it’s okay to cry. It’s amazing the relief people feel when they’re given permission to cry.

Yoga One: What are consent rocks and how do you use them in class?

Monique: They are simply rocks on which I’ve painted “yes” on one side and “no” on the other. I use the consent rocks to let the students tell me whether they want any physical adjustment or touch throughout the class. Touch can be intrusive or healing.  Touch can be unwelcome one day and welcome another.

Inviting the students to choose what parts of the practice support them on any given day is a really important part of this class. In final relaxation, for example, I give options to lie on their side or on their belly. Sometimes students who attend the class are only weeks out from tremendous loss and lying on their back feels too exposed.

Yoga One: Yoga means union. I imagine that union, or healing, after the initial separation and wound of grief is very powerful, especially to experience in community – what have you seen come out of these classes that surprised you?

Monique: I have witnessed some incredibly beautiful and unexpected moments in this class. One time, that I’ll never forget, happened in the first few months of teaching the class.

At the beginning of the class, after we’ve grounded and centered our bodies, I invite the students to bring their hands to their hearts and say the name or names of their loved ones, out loud, or to themselves. Often I see tears as they say the names, which one would expect. But one time there was a woman sitting in the front row. I saw her mouth the name and then she smiled the biggest, most beautiful smile. It broke my heart in a good way, seeing that face of grief that we don’t often see or show. That love that still lives on.

Yoga One: You’re working on a project called The Grief Practice, what is it? 

Monique: In its final form, The Grief Practice will be a large book that is part stories of loss and part mindfulness practices. There will be techniques offered that support the full experience of losing and learning to live with loss.

Right now, I’m collecting stories to include in the book. Not everyone tells their story through writing. Some people tell a story through drawing or photography. I want to share various approaches to story-telling to honor the authenticity of each person’s experience.

The thing about grief is that it’s not linear. That means our stories don’t always have a happy ending or proceed in a linear way. I hope this book will give the world a new perspective on grief, support, and our fellow humans who are grieving. I hope this helps encourage us all to step into this uncomfortable conversation with grief armed with courage and love.

To submit your story to The Grief Practice, go here. 

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19 Ways to Practice Radical Self-Love

by Laura McCorry

When my military husband was deployed, I kept a list on a whiteboard of things I could do to boost my spirits when I was feeling down and lonely. Some were aimed at fostering good mental health, like connecting with other people, while some were simply indulgent treats I was giving myself pre-permission to have and enjoy.

I highly encourage everyone to make your own list and keep it handy! It doesn’t matter if you’re going through the toughest season of your life or if you feel on top of the world –

No matter who you are, no matter what’s going on, you are here and you are deserving of love, especially from yourself!

Here are some suggestions if I had to re-write the list today:

  1. Call a friend
  2. Buy a treat at a bakery
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Get a massage
  5. Take a yoga class
  6. Make a coffee date
  7. Make a wine date
  8. Write a letter
  9. Make a pot of tea
  10. Be a tourist in your own town
  11. Go outside
  12. Visit a state park
  13. Video chat with family
  14. Make art
  15. Read a book
  16. Go to a museum
  17. Listen to music
  18. Meditate
  19. Start a gratitude journal

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura@yogaonesandiego.com

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