It was definitely on my mind to write a blog about Ahimsa, the first yoga yama (moral restraint )about non-violence. My mental picture of Ahimsa is to watch the ochre -robed monks sweeping the path before they step on any ants. Equally as silly and not-of-this-world is the blockbuster film Revenant Continue reading
Every now and then I go through all my papers and try to update my biography. It’s that old saw about writing your own obituary. Which never seems to get done.
But, for years, this blogging never seems to get done. And now I have turned on the faucet. While you are waiting for the next posts, you can check out the latest bio. It is found below this paragraph so scroll down. More important, stay tuned for coming posts about Chair Yoga — aren’t they great ? I borrowed them from Teri, the best Chair Yoga teacher I know. And I will soon be talking more about all that they can do. They only THINK they need the chair !
In fact, by default, I am learning a lot about using chairs as yoga props. This is a normal part of my evolution when I like to hear myself say ( too often these days ) “It’s the old ladies who know how to teach floor poses because it takes a lot of experiences to tell enough stories and cues to keep students happy in floor poses long enough to accomplish something wonderful”. Many of my students have hip or knee replacements ( or they need them and are trying to circumvent the whole surgical process). These folks like to sit down and stand up. So much better than up and down from the floor. We call those the dreadful GET UPS in our circuit training class.
Roberta Strickler Yoga Alliance RYT E-500 Roberta Strickler began teaching hatha yoga in March of 1995 when there were only a few active yogis in Lancaster PA. So it’s not uncommon to find yogis today who recognize her with “You were my first yoga teacher.” Her teaching style began with her first certificate from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health In Lenox, MA, where she studied on campus for 28 days to earn a 200-hour basic yoga teaching certificate. Kripalu, then, was still an ashram and its teaching style was well-known for physical and psychological safety. The facility is now an international center for Yoga & Health. The Yoga program still carries a reputation for teaching teachers how to teach, more so than for promoting one style of yoga sequences and beliefs.
In 1999 Roberta met Suzie Hurley at a workshop about inversions and was instantly smitten by the new energy and the clear precise language of Anusara Yoga, which was founded by John Friend in 1998. Based on the yoga model established by BKS Iyengar, Anusara adds grace and heart to Mr. Iyengar’s emphasis on alignment. During the next year, Roberta studied intensively with Suzie at Willow Street Yoga Center in Takoma Park, MD ( and cooked for Suzie and her family to earn her board). Roberta completed nearly 300 hours of Anusara study with John Friend, Suzie Hurley, Todd Norian, Amy Ippolito, Moses Brown and more than 100 hours of “Yoga as Therapy” study with Doug Keller (www.DoYoga.com) and John Friend. As her students age, Roberta has increased her study of physical alignment and posture with Doug Keller, most recently a week-long update in 2015. Knee replacement surgery in 2012 gave her an empathy for the need to enhance flexibility, through yoga therapy, following any joint replacement surgery ( or pre-surgical preparation).
In 1998, Roberta traveled to Mount Madonna, CA, to study Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with Jon Kabat-Zinn. She continues to incorporate the practice of mindfulness in workshops and classes, a dominate theme of her current teaching. During that era, Roberta team-taught MBSR in hospital education settings in both Lancaster and Harrisburg. She created a program of Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors for St Joseph Hospital ( now Lancaster Regional ) and taught it for six years there.
In 2014-2015, Roberta returned to Kripalu to complete a 10-week program in Foundations for Ayurveda. Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, looks at the basic constitution of each individual person and seeks to correct imbalances that lead to dis-ease and discomfort, through science of food, lifestyle, cleansing practices, and understanding through study of the Ayurveda principles, which include the 8 limbs of yoga.
Roberta teaches group and private yoga lessons, including one-on-one therapy consultations in Harrisburg, York and Lancaster.
Her personal hobbies are dominated by a passion for golf, gardening , and chess or independent films on those days when being outdoors is not an option.
To be a Pioneer in my world of Ayurveda, the many facets of the science are revealed as a part of daily life. We get together every few weeks to share our insights, our research, and our understanding of this beneficial and complex way of going about the maintenance of our health, our aging, our relationships, our eating choices, and all with good humor and friendship.
Each Pioneer begins with a private consultation. Many times the consult will be attended by a husband of another other with whom we share bed, board, marriage, or friendship. We look at the big picture of Ayurvedic wisdom and then we related it to our own basic nature and constitution. Doshas are considered as not one single category, but as part of a very unique and ever-changing set of emotional, physical, intellectual, and psychological properties.
We look at simple occurrences such as the weather, the time of day, the time of year. We convo about sleeplessness, about dry skin, about minor maladies, about our yoga and meditation practices, and so it goes on and on.
The basics, shown here, are represented by our daily diets, the food we choose that balances us or brings about imbalance, no matter how good it feels to be indulgent. Therapeutic oils and the neti pot are tools that have taken on great meaning to us in solving annoying little problems such as sinus infections and insomnia. We have met in an organic grocery store where we could go through recipes and explore new tastes. For example, the ancient grains of millet, quinoa, and a zillion varieties of rice bring new zest to menu planning. The cleansing practices ( called Dinacarya in the Ayurvedic Sanskrit alphabet ) are slow to be adopted without a group meeting where we explore the options of foot massage and the way to use a neti pot without any sign of choking.
Field trips are a lot of fun. We were hosted by an Amish farmer who gave us a tour of his fields and of his non-mechanical flour milling equipment. We saw the difference between the agriculture developed with heritage grains and then modified to the current practices of growing wheat and rye. When we saw what has happened with the modification of wheat, early in the 20th century, we understood why our bodies resist adoption of that ancient form of protein. We were truly in awe of the work ethic of the farmer who gets help from all of his relatives to plow, harvest, and process grain from seed to flour. This spring we will visit a farm where medicinal herbs and flowers are organically grown and captured for market. No doubt we will plunge into the work of it and spend a day understanding how those little seedlings become beautiful flowering plants.
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The summer labyrinth at Kripalu. In spring the lupines and the wild flowers bloom in the spaces between the green shrubs. The path is brown dirt and shavings. The center holds memories and icons representing personal samskaras, cast there by dozens of pilgrims. The vista is expansive. The approach is long. An entrance gate allows you to step forth with a sense of ceremony.
And then, there is this winter walk within the stark gray pebbles and the white smooth stones – a feast of subtle sounds . A center of emptiness. So plain. Only the few green glass pebbles offer the pilgrim a chance to use worry beads – or to leave behind only debris that is found there. Look at this one as a study for construction details for wannabe engineers of circles and spirals. Open and expansive, uncluttered, it invites you in but it gives you lots of space.
Labryinth creators have a choice to invite you to enter right or to enter left. Although this one basically follows the most common clockwise pattern, it is possible to enter to the left, if you are so inclined. I leave it to another day, another research project, another insight of your own, to know whether you wish to begin your walk clockwise or counterclockwise during your next Walking Meditation.
This classic Chartres cathedral style labyrinth clearly shows the path in a clockwise rotation. The pathways and the center dais are carefully laid, brick by brick. Here the pilgrim has a sense of being enfolded, of comfort, and of the careful hand of the creator. Of these three examples, this one is in a quiet neighborhood but is only a few blocks from busy traffic . It offers respite. Many thanks to Mark Farmer for his photograph of the labyrinth in autumn.