Archive for April, 2011

Come for a day of relaxation and exploration. We’ll begin with a class in restoratives and meditation, followed by a philosophy circle to share what makes yoga a so-called “spiritual practice”! We’ll conclude with an early evening potluck. Come for one part or come for all.


1 pm: Class on Restoratives and Sitting Meditation, $15

(We will sit for up to twenty minutes. Chairs will be available for those who need them)

Short break for tea and snacks

2:45 pm: Philosophy Circle

4-6:30 pm: Potluck Dinner

To register, email with your name, phone and what you will attend. The class is $15. The philosophy circle is offered without cost, but donations may be made to Maher Ashram.

Send checks for class cost and any donation payable to Elizabeth Kerwin, to 214 North Commercial, Suite 300, Bellingham, WA 98225 (Or you can hand them to me in class).
Please register in advance to aid planning and so I can organize carpools!

Questions? 360.303.3892

To download a pdf of the flyer with full schedule and all the above information go here.

Japan Relief Donations

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your participation in classes this quarter, that I hope is benefiting you personally! I wanted to name the organizations to which I have donated 5% of my income from yoga teaching this quarter: Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders, and Direct Relief International. These are top notch organizations with wonderful records for having the largest percentages of our donated monies going into direct service to the people needing help. In the long run, I offered some money earmarked for Japan, and then some to be dispersed in accordance with the organization’s discretion of where funds were most needed internationally. Thanks so much for participating in class and making these donations possible.

Please send your healing thoughts and prayers for Katie and Andy, and their son Isaac, a local family facing some great challenges; Katie is pregnant with a second child, and Andy is undergoing cancer treatment. Because Andy is unable to work at this time, several teachers at 8Petals are collecting donations for the family; please offer anything you can—even a dollar really will help as it accumulates with other donations! Checks may be made out to Andy Rodrigues, and will deposited in a special WECU account set up for this purpose. You may pass along a check to me, Stacey Williams, Charlotte Sather, or Susan Donofrio and we will be making deposits into the WECU account. Katie is a massage therapist and a yoga teacher, and Andy is a carpenter.

Just a quick post to let everyone know that they are invited to Turtle Haven on May 22nd for an event that will include variously asanas, a potluck meal and a philosophy circle. Come for one part or come for all. More details to follow soon.

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2-46  Sthira Sukkam Asanam

These Sanskrit words come from the Practice Book (Sadhana Pada) of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and remind us to be steady and firm, and nonetheless relaxed as we practice the asanas, or “postures” of yoga; our teacher BKS Iyengar has made many brilliant recommendations about utilizing props, as well as our keen attention, to move towards this challenging practice of making “effortless effort,” and also achieving proper alignment in our asanas and in our bodies.  When we turn to the Sutras that follow 2-46, we seem to enter the deeper  territory of this “alignment”,  and effort with simultaneous relaxation, that has more to do with our inner experience, and the quest intrinsic in yoga of peeling away the surface layers, to find the more revelatory answers to fundamental questions of who we are, in our most essential selves. Take a few moments in your week to either look online (or download a pdf of the sutras here or here) or in a Sutra book you own, to read Sutras 2-47 and 2-48, and the direction they suggest.

Ravi Ravindra’s Sutra book aptly speaks of the French word for posture as “attitude”, which clearly points to the idea of an inner experience relating to our body’s “posture.” Guruji (the affectionate and reverent name for BKS Iyengar to his students) has repeatedly claimed that alignment and enlightenment are one. So the practice of relaxing and finding steadiness in the body, along with alignment, while it may seem like physical instruction, reaches into the emotional and psychological realm of freeing our bodies to free ourselves. This close attention to how we do each asana lifts the practice out of it being simply physical, into the realm of an embodied awareness practice.

Each time I practice with this awareness, I make myself available to a deeper connection with the Infinite (Ravi Ravindra uses this term frequnetly in his spiritual writings) as it lives inside me, though I may name that as Buddha consciousness or Christ consciousness if I have a more specific naming of that which lives beyond or within the personality self. Bringing the whole subject back to my earthly self, in my body, I know that how I carry myself in the asanas and beyond creates an inner effect that I know as my mental and emotional attitude, how I am FEELING, and what sorts of thoughts are arising. We can each explore through our practice and our daily lives what we observe about how we are carrying ourselves physically and what impact we notice internally in relation to what we are noticing. We can also notice an inner experience and see if working with alignment, effort and relaxation in our practice can shift an undesirable state.

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First off, you may have noticed that things have been kind of quiet around the blog lately. Elizabeth’s computer is on the fritz. So expect more postings from her when her computer has recovered.

In the meantime, yoga, which is a form of meditation, has been in the news again, this time for its power to diminish pain. According to a  study published April 6th in the Journal of Neuroscience, people who were exposed to a pain (in the form of a painful heat source) experienced 40-57% less pain by two different pain ratings if they were meditating during exposure than if they were not. Morphine typically reduces pain ratings by about 25%.

And these were not expert meditators. They were 15 healthy volunteers who had received four twenty minute long classes in mindfulness meditation. The volunteers were taught to focus on their breath and let thoughts pass, just as we do during savasana.

In the study, the researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina found that meditation reduced every participant’s pain ratings, with the reduction ranging from 11 to 93 percent. And brain activity went from very high to undetectable in an area involved in feelings of pain localization and pain intensity known as  the primary somatosensory cortex.

To read more about the study in an article in the UK newspaper known as the Telegraph go here. If you want to see an abstract of the original study go here.

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