Inspired Yogi…What’s Your Story? 
July 22, 2016

Parnie Harger


How long have you practiced Yoga? How often per week?  I have practiced yoga inconsistently for many years, but never stuck with it long-term. This summer, I started an exchange with a yoga studio and am attending classes 1-3 times a week in an effort to commit to a continuing personal practice and progress as a beginner.

What made you decide to practice Yoga? I have never been a competitive athlete or enthusiastic about sports. After health issues interrupted my normal fitness habits for several years, I found getting back into a routine quite intimidating and uninspired. Nothing quite motivated me to get back on track, but my mind and body increasingly told me that I needed to do so. As life and adulthood gets busier and more stressful, I am drawn to yoga mainly by the non-judgmental atmosphere in which I can work to challenge myself physically. I also appreciate the chance for fulfillment that yoga provides at this juncture in my life through restoration, stillness, and mind-body awareness

What do you like about practicing Yoga at National Harbor?  Having just visited for the weekend (and on my 31st birthday!), it was lovely to be outdoors in a new yoga environment and start off the morning with purposeful reflection and movement as I began the next year of my life. 

What is your favorite Yoga pose and why is it your favorite?  There is something about reclining goddess pose that is just the pinnacle of full physical, mental, and emotional centering for me in my restorative practice. The thigh stretch and hip-opening feels perfect every time. 

Describe how Yoga has enhanced or changed your life. Every time I successfully complete a yoga class, I walk away feeling stronger in body and mind. Though it is challenging for me physically, it is quickly shaping my idea of the kind of person I want to be and how I want to live my life. 

PHOTOS BY GREG SCOTT-THE FOREVER YOGI 

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It’s a Wrap!  Final YMCA Yoga Session
July 6, 2015

When I think of the last 10 years of teaching at the YMCA, one word comes to mind: MAGIC! There have been so many magical moments in class for me and hopefully for my students as well! Life is about making connections, sharing, and appreciating and the Y has allowed me to do just that for the last 10 years. I am grateful for all the connections I have made with my students who are not just students but amazing friends! Thank you for allowing me to teach you and don’t waste but a moment on sadness! The energy of sadness doesn’t serve us Yogis…we   know where home is and it has nothing to do with a building, a classroom or a location. I know, without a doubt, that connections will continue to be made and something new and amazing will come out of it! 

Check out these beautiful pictures of the final Yoga class…

  

  

  

  

INSPIRED YOGIS…WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
August 11, 2013

The inspired yogis who have shared their stories thus far all expressed a common sentiment – practicing yoga outside was enjoyable because it brought them in contact with nature. The nice breeze, the beautiful water … a stillness and inner peace is evident when we observe the beauty of nature.

The mind can only be in the present moment when we observe something beautiful. The amazement of nature reminds us of the amazement of the inner workings of our own body. We are reminded that we didn’t create our body, our breath, reminded that the same thing that created nature also created us! The practice of yoga is a practice of that remembrance. In bringing awareness to our breath as we move into our practice, we are brought into the body and all its sensations where we’re fully alive and in the present moment!

Here another inspired Yogi shares his story!

Evan Fareed

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How long have you practiced yoga? How often per week?
I started practicing yoga in 2005. Back then, I practiced twice per week. I recently returned to consistently practicing yoga after not practicing for the last three years. Now, I practice 3 times a week.

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What made you decide to practice yoga?
I began practicing yoga to reduce stress, to build flexible, internal strength and energy, and to reduce the chance of injury, since I was very active in multiple sports.

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What do you like most about practicing yoga at National Harbor?

I enjoy practicing outside on the pier. The view and the breeze really enhance and inspire the workout.

20130811-174826.jpgWhat is your favorite yoga pose and why is it your favorite? My favorite pose is the triangle pose. The triangle pose is very therapeutic for me.

20130811-175018.jpgDescribe how yoga has enhanced or changed your life? Whenever I travel on work assignment, I always enjoy going to the beach to view the ocean and reflect on life. On one occasion while in San Diego, CA, a guy came by, and we starting sharing stories about life. He told me he had recently recovered from a life of drug addiction. He shared how he enjoyed swimming in the ocean, and almost drowned after being caught in a vicious rip tide. The tide tossed, and turned him, and pulled him under many times, and the only thing he could do was to “get that next breath” before being pulled under again. He fought, and struggled to “get that next breath”. He told me that during some periods of life, it might only be about “getting that next breath”. That next breath allows you to keeping going, to keep moving, to figure something out. When I find myself being tossed, and turned in life, I find yoga allows me to “get that next breath”.

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Yoga is also analogous with the concept of truing (straightening) a wheel on a bicycle. After putting many miles on a bicycle, the rim may become wobbly and unbalanced due to wear and tear. Life also puts wear and tear on us and places us out of balance, or not true. Yoga returns me to true.

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Photos by Greg-The Forever Yogi

What’s your story? CLICK HERE

INSPIRED YOGIS…WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
August 3, 2013

Another inspired Yogi tells her story…

Angela Martin

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How long have you practiced yoga? How often per week?
I started practicing regularly in April 2013– so about 4 months on average 3 times/week.

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What made you decide to practice yoga?
I was looking for a regular form of exercise that I would enjoy– I found that in yoga. When I moved from Florida to Washington about 4 years ago, I left behind the beach which was the only place I could truly relax and enjoy my own company. Since starting yoga my mat has become the place I go to when I need to retreat and reflect. An added benefit is that yoga allows me to strengthen and align my physical and spiritual body at the same time!

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What do you like most about practicing yoga at National Harbor?
Practicing on the waterfront allows you to be closer to nature, to feel the gentle breeze on your skin as you focus on your breath and practice. It’s a nice break from the confines of the gym or indoor studio.

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What is your favorite yoga pose and why is it your favorite?
I love tree pose (Vrksasana) because its so basic yet the variations you can do with your arms and legs are limitless and impose a challenge if you try something new every time! I also love forearm stands because I can manage to get upside down and hold myself there for several breaths. Inversions are fun and challenging and have so many benefits to our health. Again, I find these challenging and i’m having fun working on improving mine over time. I really enjoyed the dolphin with one raised leg hop exercise you guided this morning, now I understand how to work on getting my head fully off the ground (thanks!).

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Describe how yoga has enhanced or changed your life?
Yoga has taught me to live in the moment and not worry so much about what other people are doing or what I cannot do. I’ve made a promise to myself that the moment I step on to my mat I will let go of judgement toward myself and others. Instead of feeling weak, I honor the strength I do have. Instead of worrying about all the things I have to do after practice, I focus on the present moment. One of the favorite mantras I’ve heard during practice was “You’re here. So be all here, and give every movement and moment all you’ve got.”– I try to live by that on and off the mat.

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Photos By Greg-The Forever Yogi

Whats your story?CLICK HERE

ON A YOGA HIGH AT NATIONAL HARBOR!
July 12, 2013

Wow! It’s been an amazing experience teaching the Free Saturday Yoga at National Harbor! Never did I imagine I would be teaching yoga to a crowd of 125! I’m so grateful to be able to share yoga through my teaching and to get the opportunity to meet new yogis! Even more amazing, from the very first class, I’ve had the feeling of being at HOME! I had anticipated being nervous teaching to so many but, as in the past, the love I have for yoga took over and I felt completely at ease.

Helping to create that comfortable feeling is having my Team of experienced students by my side; modeling the poses for the crowd allowing me to be free to move about the crowd and provide hands on adjustments. It makes me so proud to see students that I have been teaching for years, up front and center with me, beautifully demonstrating for the crowd. This teaching experience at the Harbor has opened up possibilities for not just me, but it has inspired some members of my Team to step up their practice and get their teaching certification. I couldn’t be more pleased!

Let me take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my Team: Angie, Robin, Kevin, Greg, Terri, and Kim. Thanks for making me feel at ease every Saturday morning and sharing with me that Yoga High at the end of each session!

Here are some pictures from our Saturday sessions….enjoy!

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Photos by Greg-The Forever Yogi

NEW FACES AT THE FREE YOGA AT THE PARK!
July 3, 2013

Here are pictures from the last free yoga session at Fort Washington Park. I was very happy to see new faces. Lucky for us, the rain held off until the end of the session. The breeze on the hilltop was so nice!image_13 image_14 image_12 image_11 image_10 image_9 image_8 image_7 image_6 image_3 image_4 image_5 image_2 image_1 image image_15

MY SWEET LITTLE VERA, YOU WILL BE MISSED
April 13, 2013

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On April 12, we lost one of our own – Vera. A short but touching email, sent by her husband Jim to Val, delivered the news of her passing:

Dear Val,
My wife, Vera, passed away today at Walter Reed Hospital. She suffered from the effects of a ruptured aneurism in her brain. I don’t know how best to let Cathy know that Vera’s Yoga is now ended, but she did enjoy and value the experience, and she held Cathy in high regard. Please pass that on to her.
Thanks, Jim

This is how I remember Vera:

When I first saw cute, petite Vera walk into my Yoga class more than two years ago, I realized she looked familiar. She had been a regular customer of mine about 10 years prior at a hair salon where I worked. She soon became a regular Yoga “customer” of mine, amazed at the odds of her walking into my class.

Vera was what I call “old school”. She reminded me of my own mother…always moving, always sweet, and never complaining. She came from the generation where the simple characteristics of quiet determination and hard work were common. This is also how she practiced her Yoga. Many times during class I would see Vera doing her best to perform a pose, no matter how challenging; her face always soft and sweet looking and never did I hear her struggle to breathe. She took it all in her own stride and knew when to skip or modify. I never heard her complain about not being able to perform a pose or complain about aches and pains after class. She would simply thank me for the practice and tell me how good she felt and then she was out the door! She’s what I call “good people” and I feel grateful to have spent time with such a good soul.

This brings to mind something I read by Eckart Tolle. He said, ” Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.” The universe gives our minds the gift of memory and as long as we remember Vera, she will forever be “alive”.

Our heartfelt condolences to Vera’s husband, Jim, and to her family! For those of you who knew Vera, please share your memories by leaving a comment.

Here some pictures of Vera taken at our past Yoga retreats:

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Yeah! Summer Yoga at National Harbor!
April 3, 2013

Thank you Universe and thank you Wally (aka Val)!

A passing thought to teach at National Harbor becomes a reality, how awesome is that! I can’t deny, I was thrilled to have been given this opportunity to teach the Free Waterfront Yoga on Saturdays, 9 a.m., between May 11 and October 26, at National Harbor, MD. I am grateful to everybody who played a hand in making it possible!

So who set the wheels in motion? None other than Wally, my incredible friend, who, with absolute selflessness, sent my resume, along with a heartfelt email, asking the Peterson Company to just “give her a try”. Wow!

Thinking about what transpired made me realize:

1. how the power of thought and the vision can become reality, where the invisible becomes visible with absolute ease,
2. how this opportunity is a stepping stone with endless possibilities for me to continue to fulfill my intention to share my love for yoga with as many people as possible, and
3. how Val, a dedicated student, shares that same intention

We both know the benefit of the practice; we both know the rewards of keeping our intentions clear, and we both are making the baseline motivation for what we do to be of service to others.

Here a link to National Harbor’s event calendar. Free Waterfront Yoga is offered three times a week, if you’re currently not committed to your practice, take this opportunity to get back on track. Also, keep checking this website periodically as I will be adding events including free Yoga at the Park (Ft Washington Park, Ft Washington, MD).

http://nationalharbor.com/events/2013-05

I hope to see many familiar faces among the crowd and hope to inspire others with my teachings! You all make it so worthwhile!

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BEAUTIES, BLOCKS AND BALANCE-A UNIQUE WAY TO USE THE YOGA BLOCK!
January 14, 2013

If you follow my blog, you already have seen Diane’s recent ‘Block Blog’ (see post on November 30, 2012, My First Guest Blogger: Diane – Yoga Block Guru). I would like to expand on that and share a few more interesting and unique ways on using the yoga block!

In the following demonstrations, the block is used as a balancing tool to create awareness for proper alignment on arms and legs in some common standing poses. Even though the yoga block weighs next to nothing, balancing the block on these parts of the body requires focus, concentration and steadiness and it challenges the muscle to build strength.

The following are areas of alignment the balancing block can help with:

– Creating and keeping a right angel bend to the knee
– Creating and keeping a parallel thigh position when knee is bent
– Creating and keeping a straight knee/leg position
– Maintaining level hips and sacrum
– Creating and keeping a balanced inward and outward rotation of the thigh when leg is fully
extended
– Creating and keeping full extension of the arms

Helpful hints:
– Supply four blocks per student
– Since it can be challenging to balance your own block when in the pose, have students pair off in twos with one student doing the pose and the other placing the blocks on the respective body parts

With the help of two Yoga Beauties, Angie and Robin, I put together the following to help demonstrate the use of the balancing block:

WARRIOR II

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20130111-172809.jpgUsing the blocks helps to create the parallel thigh in Warrior II which will allow the block to balance. The blocks balancing on the arms encourage full arm straightening and raised fingertips.

HALF MOON POSE

20130111-173215.jpgBalancing the block on the top hip requires parallel /stacked hips and flat sacrum. The block placed at the ankle reinforces the straight leg, flexed foot position.

HALF SPLITS POSE

20130111-173648.jpgIn order for the block to stay balanced on the hamstring, the inward and outward rotation of the top thigh must be balanced and a flat sacrum maintained.

LUNGE POSE

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Balancing the block on the upper thigh teaches the student to create and keep a right angle bend to the front knee as well as a parallel thigh which requires the knee to track toward the pinky-toe side of the foot.

Photos by Greg-The Forever Yogi

MY FIRST GUEST BLOGGER: DIANE -YOGA BLOCK GURU
November 30, 2012

My name is Diane and I’ve been a student of Cathy’s for about three years. When I practice Yoga, I love to use blocks. I consider them to be extensions of my arms.

Downward Facing Dog is one of the poses that can be hard to attain. If you have trouble getting into and maintaining Downward Facing Dog, blocks can help. You will feel your limbs stretching, abdomen going “hollow”, and mind calming down. If you only have time for one pose, Downward Facing Dog is “the one”.
Downward Facing Dog using blocks
Props = 3 blocks and a wall.
Place 2 blocks in the lowest position, against the wall. Place the third block either on its side or straight up in the center of the two and slightly more toward your feet. Think of arranging three platforms; two for hands and one for head.
Kneel down, place your hands on the blocks against the wall and press your hips up. You may need to walk your feet back a little (approx 4’ from your hands).
Keep your knees bent and heels lifted. Stretch your arms fully. With intention stretch each leg from heel to buttock and contract the thigh muscle on the front of the leg feeling it rise into the hip joint. Raise your buttocks, stretch your chest and push the sternum slightly forward to open the heart. Exhale and rest your head on the third block.
Press hands down, extend arms fully, stretch the area between your shoulder blades. To take some pressure off the wrists make sure to press firmly between your thumb and first finger.
Beginners hold this position for a few seconds. Gradually increase until you can hold for 30 seconds or more with your goal to hold the position with a calm mind for one full minute.

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Bharadvajasana – Torso Stretch Pose
This pose was always very hard for me until I discovered that the blocks can assist in sitting up tall. My tendency was to roll my hip and try to twist from the waist just to “get into” the pose. The blanket will raise the hips and with blocks to press on, you can focus on a twist that extends from the hip region up to the top of the spine. Remember, we are working/practicing yoga to improve, not to jam ourselves up.
Props – one blanket and two blocks
Start in Dandasana. Sit on a blanket so that your hips are slightly elevated. Bring your knees in (bend them) and place your feet next to your left hip. Place the left ankle on top of the arch of your right foot and lower your knees to the floor.
Place a block on the side of your hip and the other block in front of your thigh/knee area. Begin to straighten your spine as you breathe in. Exhale as you twist. Press down on the blocks, straighten your arms, and keep your chin level. Try to hold the twist for 30 seconds. Release the pose and try the other side.

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Hero Pose
The first time I saw Hero Pose, all I could think was “no way” are my knees going to allow me to do that. If stiff knees or ankles are keeping you from getting into Hero Posture try some blocks and see if you can begin to experience the benefits. Note: the first time you do this, you may need 2 blocks.
Props = 1 block, and 1 folded blanket or thick towel. Start in child’s pose, lift your torso upright and place the block under your sit bones. Place the folded blanket under your shins (at the ankles) in front of the block. Knees should be together, shins slightly out to the sides. Make sure your feet point back and toes touch the ground.
Stretch your chest outward, shoulder blades down. Using your breath, squeeze the kidney area and draw it into your body. Place your palms on your knees or thighs. Look straight ahead, close your eyes. Remain in the pose, breathing deeply and steadily for 30 seconds with a goal of 60 seconds.

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Warrior II
Props – a wall and a block
Warrior II is strengthening pose. Use a block to test if you are bending your knee enough to get your thigh bone parallel to the floor. Use the wall (press wall with your hand) to make sure your spine is staying erect and tall. I started practicing Warrior II using a chair until I was able to get my thigh and calf to create a right angle with the thigh bone parallel to the floor. As you practice this pose, your hips and groin will begin to become stronger.

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