Mindfulness Via Yoga

align. renew. transform.

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It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt, a serendipitous hunt because you are not likely intending to find all possible Linden Trees. There are few clues. But this is what I wonder when I find one, such as this lovely tree, past bloom, but full of fruit and seed.

I suspect that Linden Trees (basswood ) are not planted in modern landscapes because they are “dirty”? What a shame.

For me, der linden is a memory trigger. On hot early summer days – so long ago – I would meet Barbara Harkleroad at the McCaskey High School tennis courts. We had a hot, intense, companionable but highly competitive, series of singles games. Run to the net and smash !

And beside us, a row of highly fragrant linden trees, blooming away, almost exemplifying – mimicking in a way – the power building on the court..

I went there, a week ago, to find those trees. Only one remains. where once there was a stately row, now someone planted a fresh clean row of something bland and clean . Maybe maples or elms. No trouble at all. And no powerful fragrance.

I always wonder who planted those lindens there. JP McCaskey died in 1935. He had been educator, journalist, even mayor of the town of Lancaster. I find this clue to the planting of those linden trees on Wikiedia:  

Prior to the establishment of Arbor Day celebration in public schools, McCaskey had already introduced the celebration of Arbor Day to Pennsylvania by leading a program at his school in 1884. Over the next 20 years, he and the Lancaster High School, which included a girls’ department, held two Arbor Days annually, complete with afternoon programs lasting sometimes 2-2+12 hours. Students and faculty planted over 9,000 trees all around the town.

Do look: Heartshaped leaves. Often more than one tree survives. When I find them they are old. and yes there is debris— debris with textures, shapes, and the memory of the scent, a powerful scent.

Once the main east-west thoroughfare of imperial Berlin, Unter den Linden survived the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich to spend nearly 30 years as the most famous dead-end street in the world when Berlin became a divided city.

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Ayurveda Study Group

Meets on Thursdays


at The Yoga Room, 620 Paxton Place, Lititz, PA  (south of Lancaster Airport)

Call or email me for details of the meeting place:  mindoveryoga@yahoo.com

Some basic knowledge of these dosas and the gunas ( Sativa, Rajas, Tamas, and the qualities of dry/wet, cold/hot, and so forth) is helpful.

Below is a summary list of topics that we continue to explore:
  • Food Combining and talk about ways we have incorporated this knowledge into our lives, so far.

Sleep and Dreams. Causes and ways to deal with insomnia and interrupted sleep. Meaning of dreams and identifying Pitta, Vata or Kapha elements in dreams, to consider these hints at imbalances.

This is an ongoing study group of Ayurveda. A beginners’ review, will be set up in September 2021. Likely it will take place on a Sunday afternoon, allowing for persons who live together to gather the principles. Ayurveda language is non-threatening way to point out a person’s predilections without insult !

Call, write to text if you are interested. Roberta Strickler. mindoveryoga@yahoo.com. 717-576-2099

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Onions and Garlic. Staples on a cold winter day.

However, for food as Medicine, according to Ayurveda, onions and garlic have what we will call, a mixed message,

On the tongue, during the moments of taste, onions seem warming. Rasa is the word we use for the taste in the mouth. But the longterm effect of a food, called vipak, is more important, in the long run. For the vipak affects the physiology, the use of the food for fuel, for medicine, for nourishment. This is how we can get away with something that we might consider ” bad for me, but it doesn’t seem to bother me.”

This “bother” is the slow effect, the effect over time. In something like drugs or alcohol, the longterm effect become a degradation, an addiction, it wears down the organs and the systems of the body. Even though it seems to begin with Just one.

Well, this is a long way from the subject of Onions – and garlic by association. Although the immediate taste of an onion is pungent, warming. In your intestinal tract, post-digestion, these two foods are cooling, hard to digest. Raw onion is not enjoyed by someone who is prone to unbalanced Vata. They will tell you so. On a very cold and windy day, the negative effect is even greater. These are qualities of Vata and they will seek to unbalance

And so, in Ayurveda, we learn that Opposites are balancing. Available now, leeks and shallots are sweet, better choices during cold weather. Onions and garlic also become sweeter – and lighter – when they are cooked . For Pitta and Vata the alternatives ( cooking onions or substituting leeks) will help to balance if they are taken in small quantities ( Little Bits ) . Kapha is well-suited to an Onion in all of its Pungent forms.

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Vata in the air

Vata dosa in Ayurveda – in its normal state Vata protects the body.

It’s so important to remember – at least to hope – that every one of us has some of this AIR symbol in our basic constitution, our Prakruti. For without Vata there would be no change, no creativity.

At this time of year, Vata asserts through the wind. Vata tugs us to go her way, to imbalance with dry skin, cracking joints, disorganization of mind, anxiousness.

So, in yoga class this week ( Tuesday Jan 26 at 4:00 & Friday Jan 29 at 8:30 am) we will focus on moving all the joints and mobility: moving energy/prana throughout the body.

Improving out sense organs is always important at this dry and windy time of year. Ears are covered by hats. Eyes squint against the high bright light, Masks over noses and mouths. The way-up-there parts of the body are covered by attention at beginning and end of classes this week.

Join us. In Studio or Virtual. www.westendyogastudio.com

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Ayurveda & Yoga

a series of yoga classes to honor the dosas

Earth + Water.

The qualities of Heavy, Dense, Soft, Stable are grounded Kapha. Babies look like Kapha:  Smooth, rubbery, sweet, tied to the Earth.

To pacify too much Kapha we practise poses that are energizing, uplifting, active, steady and light.   Kapha will enjoy the repetition of the Moon Salutation practised in a warm space. But keep it going. Do not allow it to bog down for Kapha prefers to stay home on the couch. Be sprighty, light, energetic.

Kapha is pacified by foods that are well-spiced and easy to digest.

            To decrease Kapha: turmeric, legumes, cranberries, strong black tea.

            To increase Kapha (when you drift into the Don’t-Wannas:   sweet fruits, grains, root vegetables such as potatoes and beets, dates, nuts, meats.  

Kapha is the theme for Classes during the third week of January:

Tuesday, January 19 at 3:45 pm. and Friday, January 21 at 8:30 a.m.

This series of one-hour yoga classes to develop the principles of Ayurveda as expressed in the tools of yoga.  The series begins with an overview on Tuesday Jan 12 (3:45 pm) and Friday Jan 15 (8:30 a.m.)

at West End Yoga Studio, West Walnut Street, Lancaster PA

sign up for the classes at westendyogastudio.com


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When Where & Up

April 1999.
Gabriel Halpren yoga class in downtown Chicago.

My birthday celebrated with an architects’ tour of Chicago buildings in company with “man from Chillicothe”.

First unassisted headstand.

OK. 21 years later I still claim the daily headstand to be my fountain of youth. Truth be told, I am simply terrified that my body will “forget” how to get upside down in it. That means my spine wont get a vacation from its usual Hold-up standing pose. My aging organs wont get a lift !

OK. So now i’m going to abandon this post for awhile. Do stay tuned. I found Gabriel Halpren on line. He and I are still teaching and practicing Iyengar yoga this 21 years later. I am going off now to study his website . Maybe I can figure out how he does it. I always want to get more people to join me upside down. There are stages of readiness.

I do remember the two teachers, that day, in that beautiful studio. For some reason, I was the only student. Those two guys kept saying, You can do it. We will catch you . You CAN do it. And so I did . They did catch me. Then I went right back to my hotel room. I shut the door and I did a head stand. You may be next.

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Yoga in the Zoom Room

The other day I taught a yoga class on Zoom. Well, in fact, I taught a class on Zoom every day this week. I am calling this My Current Adventure. If you know me you know that my favorite mantra is ” Without risk there is no adventure.” Ok. Back to the true subject of this blog about yoga on Zoom. Think of it as Adventure.

People ask me what I think about teaching yoga via Zoom. Here are a few of my responses:

  • I love it. I can teach from home. It’s efficient and easy. An hour of class takes an hour of work – plus the planning time of course.
  • The vertical and the horizontal. That is the tricky part. It’s one thing to participate in a meeting or a cocktail party on Zoom. Faces or no faces. Doodling on your desk or not. Going to another room if there is a crowd. But a yoga class might go from sitting to kneeling to standing to lying flat. Perhaps this happens several times within one hour. ” Tilt your screen” is what I say now. In the past I just said: “Come to Standing” or “Sit Cross-Legged”. So try to fit ” Stand and Raise Your Arms Above Your Head” into a horizontal screen. Impossible to know if this student can do that or not. More impossible to know if they can do that without coming all out of alignment. After we have spent 20 minutes getting the body and the mind all lined up.
  • Planning is tricky. You have to get where you are going without a lot of ups and downs,
  • Butt up ? Just keep in mind that you want to keep your crotch facing forward when you stand up. And then…..you need to consider how much time the student wants to watch your crotch Full Screen.
  • Most of all: Yoga on Zoom is harder on the student than it is on the teacher. For the most part, a student is figuring out all the logistics. At the same time she is camera shy and does not want to see the body in comfy clothing in a tiny square compared to everyone else. A few yogis like to go to class in front of a mirror. Most yogis like to have their backs to the wall, or to the other students. It is difficult, for sure, to avoid being SELF-conscious…I’m going to suggest that the best way to look better, over time, is to take a few tips on how to become a better Zoomer.
  1. Turn on the lights. Shine a light on your face.
  2. Put the dog, the cat, and the kids in the other room,
  3. Ask the teacher to record the class and plan to watch it within 24 hours. Sometime you just cannot avoid the dog and the cat and the kids. You’ll want to catch up later.
  4. For some reason, laptops work best. Its easier to tilt the screen and the pixels seem to be clearer. PLUS you are smaller in being self-conscious about how you look.
  5. A yoga mat is 6 feet long. Your screen will work best at about 6 to 8 feet from the back of your mat. Come on. You can move the furniture and clear out some of that clutter. After all, this is an adventure that wont go away, even if you return to the studio. Probably.
  6. On your phone ? That probably will not work. Too tiny. Too limited. and very hard to keep it from falling,
  7. Just like being in yoga class: No one else is paying any attention to you or how you look…..except your teacher, of course. Switch the role for a moment. Would you be able to work in careful dialogue with a black square for an hour?

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Look at your Lower Back

It’s hard to really look at your own back. But not so difficult to feel your lower back…. when it decides to act up – or in —- or ouch.

My classes at West End Yoga Studio, on West Walnut Street, Lancaster, PA, build upon this subject. Often the clues to a healthy spine begin in your feet. It is also surprisingly easy to explore a range of these clues during a small yoga class. Open the joints. Find a comfortable way to sit. Explore the world of your healing and calming breath.

You will find, at West End Yoga Studio, a carefully cleaned and measured space. Students are limited to a comfortable social distance. You can be inward during your practise. And its a lot like satisfying that hunger to go to the office. Or the store. or the walk in the park. Social but spaced.

Come and join us. You can show up online or in person. Sign in at www.westendyogastudio.com

Tuesdays at 3:45 pm. Thursday morning at 8:45 a.m. and Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.

I’ll be there. Here’s looking at you.

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Outdoor Yoga 2020

The porch in Musser Park.  Corner of N Lime & W. Chestnut Sts.

We have a floor and a roof. We wear our masks to classs and then some people take them off during the hour of practice.

       We meet every Thursday morning, rain or shine, at 7:30 and at 8:30 a.m.. Wee adapt to the weather with an email communication each week from mindoveryoga@yahoo.com.  Send your email address if you want to get the weekly notice.  Call me at 717-576-2099 with questions.

            Do join us. Donations are accepted in any amount that is comfortable for you.

            Bring the props you need to be comfortable. A blanket is important. Bring a yoga mat. You will use a tie & a block if you have them. We maintain 6 feet of distance between mats. 

This class will continue outdoors at least through October 2020. A similar class is held indoors at West End Yoga studio, 221 West Walnut Street, Lancaster, Friday mornings at 8 a.m. New classes will be advertised here when the weather forces us to practice indoors.

Roberta Strickler, teacher, has been teaching and practising yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda lifestyle for 25 years in Central Pennsylvania.  Her style is to create a lesson plan tailored to the needs of the yogis in the class that day. The practise is slow, often therapeutic, and usually a lot of fun.  Blog: MindfulnessViaYoga.     Put your contact information on the blog page if you want an alert whenever there is a post.

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March 2020

My new pet  …………

………and other things I like a lot

about this unexpected moment in time.

Mindfulness is a highly overworked word these days. It has become a marketing word. But let me use it one more time, in Jon Kabat Zinn’s sense of sitting with Just What Is.

At least, here it is from a point of view,  suddenly unemployed,  an extrovert without companions.

The hustle is gone. A certain sense of ennui has set in, at least for me. What is there to want?  To go for?  There is a new pace.  New kinds of discipline.  Find one project per day and take time to finish it.  

Roll out of bed and go right straight to yoga class. Select any one of many world class teachers, Wear any old clothing that meets minimal Zoom requirements.

Which brings me to the pet.  I have longed for a dog for several years. But pets are forbidden in my apartment house.  However, I realized that a certain very very small black spider was traveling across the ceiling while I was down on the floor in the one-student yoga class in my sunny office. He became very important to me. A companion without a mask !  And I learned a lesson when I spied him emerging on a close by wall.  I tried to take his picture.  He was too fast. And now he is hiding somewhere, waiting for me to let him go.  With no scrutiny.

And that brings me to the list of just what is :

* The weather. Spring has caught the slowed pace. It has been cool. Daffodils have had  their day and another day and another. Those early magnolias were with us for a very long time this year, in spite of being just a little bit out of their zone.

* The light. The lack of smog in the air has allowed special clarity in the bright,  natural light bouncing against the white-walled barns.

* The fresh air.  The stars. More stars. The easy breathing. The spaciousness.

* Old friends from everywhere. It’s no longer my habit to ignore phone calls from unrecognized area codes.  More than likely, someone remembered me from a long time ago and is calling to check up, to send me a photo of our younger selves or a page from a hiking journal.

* The open highways. No need to jockey for lanes, to dart into a tiny opening. And with the less than $2. price of gas – this unfamiliar feature is eye candy if nothing else. Together, the temptation is there to just go the open road, set off on that cross-country trip always dreamed of. But then there is the relaxation of that ennui again. Can’t cross the state line so there is no need to pack the car, make the list, stop the paper. Why go?  Everyplace is just like here, now.

* Cleaned out closets. the pantry. the book shelves.

* Sobriety. I promised myself, from the first, that I would not hoard. And so the liquor closet is bare and tries to be the bright side of that story:  No single factor has been able to privatize the liquor stores until coronavirus shone its spotlight on our open, neighboring states.

Like any new love. This one appeared suddenly, with no warning, carries unexpected and unpredictable traits.

            As we are all, now, fond of saying:  This is the new norm. it just is.