Author Archives: Jamie Elmer

Over 4,000 miles (and we’re not home yet)

One more time, we’ve been road tripping. Only ten more hours of driving to go, and we’ll be back in Denver. And yes, both dog and cat are in the back seat!

From mountain biking , to St. Augustine to move BALANCE (that yes, is still for sale – http://www.balanceboat.wordpress.com), up the coast and back to CO – here are a few pics from the last couple of weeks.

I try – mountain biking is just about the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. Its good for me – I can feel myself getting stronger, and each time I think “Great, I’ll have done this whole ride without falling”, I inevitably fall in some odd spot that makes Tobin say, “You have a knack for falling where nobody else could”. Thanks, Darlin’.

bike 9

 

New roof tent set up we’re trying – camped nearly across the street from Graceland – hadn’t been there since a cross country trip with my girlfriend when I was 18. (That was a few years ago now!)

Tent:Graceland

Elvis Presley

BALANCE in her new spot in St. Augustine. Luckily, she wasn’t looking different than when I saw her last…. she’s ready for new owners!

Balance:St. Augustine

A day out on the Piankatank river on a friend’s motor boat – once we got far enough west, it felt more like a swamp – had to keep a look out for shallow water and trees right under the surface.

Piankatank River

Bow of Frankie's boat

Bald Eagle in the tree – looks small from here, but he’s really there….

Bald Eagle:VA

Beautiful sunset at the end of the day on the water

Sunset 1:VA

For my Yoga teaching schedule, please click HERE (www.jamieelmer.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do you have a guru”?

Many times, in various parts of the country, I’ve witnessed teachers who put themselves on a pedestal, or students who put their teachers on a pedestal – as if they’re not equals. There is a certain amount of respect which is important to keep towards those who we consider to be our teachers. Respect is one thing – worship is another. Often, I’m asked if I have a guru, and who that guru is. I’ll get to answering that question after this short story……..

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Photography: Sarit Photography

A couple of months ago, on a teaching trip to Los Angeles, I taught a weekend long course to teachers entitled “How to Teach Beginners”. I asked Keri Telford, a now seasoned teacher at Exhale, Venice if she would teach a segment of the training. She said yes and also said she’d sit in on the entire weekend.

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Keri and I go way back. She was a student of mine for years at Exhale when I taught there full time. She and her husband, Joe attended one of my classes early on, when I had just started to teach, and they were just starting yoga. This was back in the day when I was still petrified to teach, use my voice, let alone actually look at anyone in the room! But, as shy as I was, the practice was working and Keri and Joe kept coming back.

Time went by – I taught more and Keri practiced more. Years started to pass and Keri took Max Strom’s yoga teacher training. Afterwards, she began assisting me. More years passed and now Keri is one of the main teachers at Exhale, Venice.

To the point….when I taught this “How to Teach Beginners” course a couple of months ago, Keri sat attentively through the entire weekend, just like all the other students in the room. She sat there, respecting my teaching and our path together, although I KNEW she was learning nothing new from me. Its a special relationship, student and teacher. She still respects and credits me as a teacher, although I know and accept that Keri doesn’t have anything else to learn from me at this point. Point is, she sat there with respect, and I sat there, as the “teacher” in the room knowing she knew every word that was going to come out of my mouth. And, when she taught her segment, I sat in the back, happy to absorb what she was teaching and feeling so proud of her.

I’m grateful for my relationships like this. I hope to never become a teacher who thinks the student/teacher role can’t be switched at some point. May we all keep respect for one another and see each other as equals. And to answer the question I’m asked often….no, I don’t have a guru, but I have many teachers.

Writing from the Air

I’ve said it before, I love my travel days. Time en route, in the airport, in the plane. There is innevitably a delay, a crowd or even a flight cancellation once in a while, but all in all, its a time I enjoy. While traveling its imperative that we concerve our energy. I was thinking today at the Dallas airport on my way back from Newark that its a little bit like needing to wear a bubble around yourself in order to simply observe the circumstances at the airport and on the plane, and not have your energy totally drained by the number or people, visual stimulus or noise. That’s the only way to go, is to wear a bubble around you! Then, traveling becomes interesting, not a life force drainer!

That said, I’m on my second flight of the day on my way back from teaching at Easton Yoga in Easton, PA.  I’ve been putting off writing a new blog for a while, in part because I don’t like to write unless I really feel compelled to write. I also don’t like to write if I don’t feel I have anything in particular to write about. I’m sure nobody wants to hear about what I’ve been eating for breakfast, how the animals are doing, etc. I feel I do have a writing topic this month, but realize that I’ve been putting it off lately because of what people might think. Yes, the old “what will people assume” fear has crept in to my head, and I’m self conscious to put myself out there lately.

Change has crept in again, and Tobin and I have decided to close our yoga studio in Minturn, CO. The last few months have proven to us both that we enjoy our little town, I love teaching more regularly again, but now is not the time for us. I have more travel opportunity right now, and really can’t be traveling to teach as much as I want to AND be at the studio as much as it needs. I can’t be in two places at once unfortunately. Signs right now point in the direction of traveling more, and having a neighborhood studio again some day…. When? Not sure.

Along with traveling to other studios to teach, I’m excited that I’ll be going back to Los Angeles to teach for one week each month at Exhale, Venice. My old yoga home. This time in my life has felt a bit full circle. We moved from L.A nearly 6 years ago (!), came to Colorado, moved on to a boat for three years, moved back to Colorado, and now I’ll be back at Exhale more than ever. You just never know what will be around the corner, what each day calls for, or where you’ll end up in 6 years! And, for us now, we need to keep moving in the direction of where the  energy is. So, that means more change.

One of the things I admire most about Tobin is that he puts all of himself in to something, a place, a decision, a project. But, he also has a great ability to stay adaptable and change. If something isn’t working, he looks forward and is able to move on. I’m a bit slower to realize sometimes that change needs to occur. I tend instead to beat a dead horse. But little by little, I’m becoming more adaptable.

If there is a moral to this blog, its this: Stay loose, ever changing, and don’t make too many assumptions about your own decisions or other’s! I hope to see some of you very soon either here, there, or some place new.

For my travel teaching schedule, please visit www.firstrayyoga.com – “Jamie’s travel teaching schedule”. Also, when I’m in L.A, the classes and workshops that I’ll be teaching will be posted on the front page of my website. I’ll be teaching at Exhale the 8 – 14th of each month! If you’re intersted in a private session while I’m there, please e-mail me at jamie@firstrayyoga.com

Be well and safe travels.

 

“Don’t make me come down there”.

For Minturn, CO First Ray Yoga’s Class schedule, please click HERE

In this BLOG:

“Don’t make me come down there”

Up-Coming Events at the First Ray Yoga Studio in Minturn, CO and Vail, CO

BLOG: “Don’t make me come down there”

Its been a surprisingly busy month. Spring has sprung here, and its beautiful.

Now that its warmer, its all about getting out in the fresh air, sun and exercising. I’ve been reminded lately just how important exercise is for mental health! Its a bit like meditating….if you feel like you don’t have time for meditation and you’re too busy, you need to meditate twice as long. Same with exercsie, I believe. Its not just a physical practice, but a mental one. And what’s good for us, is good for all of those around us! I was reminded of this exercise fact after a couple of weeks of traveling by car, and not able to exercise or practice yoga as much as I’d like.

I’m not going to go in to detail about WHY some of our travels and road trips occured this past month. Let’s just say, a couple that we thought were necessary ended up being for not. None the less, there were a few strange highlights….

*I only took a few photos, but you can imagine:

– In Texas, one of the highlights for me, was seeing a billboard that said, “Don’t make me come down there”. – GOD (Yikes!)

– We saw a man, I’d say around 65 or 70, walking on the side of the highway who was wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m walking across America”. (Impressive)

– In Louisiana I called in an accident that we witnessed. We were on the north bound side and the accident happened on the south bound side. There was a wide, grass median between us. Nobody seemed to be hurt, but there were two cars in the median that were smoking, and there was a south bound car, that appeared to be running away from the accident. The runaway car was an old sadan, smoking from the hood, underneath, everywhere. The hood and the trunk were open, with what appeared to be a huge parachute hanging out the back, dragging along the highway. (Mysterious)

– The views from the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction:

COMonument

COMonument2

Continental Divide Near Minturn, CO:

Continental divide

Apollo taking advantage of the warm weather – hanging in the dandelions:

Apollo In Dandelions

Up – Coming Events at the First Ray Yoga studio in Minturn, CO:

Yoga for Cyclists-Arthritis-1

I’ll be teaching my YogaStride Workshop at the Vail Athletic Club on Thursday, June 27th:

YogaStride:VAC

Variety is the Spice, when it comes to movement and exercise

BLOG – Variety is the Spice, when it comes to movement and exercise

Upcoming Events and Jamie’s travel teaching schedule

I was reminded today, as I was hiking with B Dog, that we need it all when it comes to types of movement and exercise. I’ve spent too much time at my computer the last few days and decided it was time to step away – even if the “to do” list wasn’t done. Time to step out, get some fresh air and be in the mountains. Some claim that there is one thing that “does it all”, but it isn’t true. Our body’s not only need different types of movement, but ideally a variety of environments, too.

Most of you that know me know I absolutely love and believe in the practice of yoga. But  it doesn’t do it all – physically speaking. I need hiking, biking, skiing, dancing and swimming, too! We all need this variety for our bodies, brains and heart. We need to be in different environments, atmospheres, climates once in a while.

So, next week, we’re spending a few days at the Fruita Mountain Bike Festival. Although I’ve been skiing this year, its not the same as mountain biking. Its going to kick my butt I think. But its good for me to be challenged. I know this.

So if you can today, take even just a few minutes to move differently. Dance in your kitchen, run up the street, take child’s pose and breathe. We need it all. Try something new.

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B Dog pretty much sticks only to running, with an occasional down dog and up dog
BDog mid stride

Apollo pretty much sticks with his main activity of sleeping, except when its time to walk to get food
ApolloSleeping

Upcoming events:

*I’m looking forward to teaching at one of my favorite studios, Rasa Yoga Center in Ashland, OR May 10th, 11th and 12th – TWO workshops and T.T segments, “The Art of Vinyasa Flow Sequencing” and “HEAL you body through flow yoga”. Please see the their site for details and
*Our studio’s class schedule in Minturn, CO is at http://www.firstrayyoga.com

A Nerd At Heart (only some of the time)

An update of the end of season here in the Vail Valley, Jimmy Cliff and WALKING BACKWARDS

The mountain here in Vail closed yesterday, and our small town of Minturn feels like a ghost town. Many businesses are closed and many people are on their long awaited vacations. And true to timing, now that the mountain has closed, its been dumping snow here for the last day. One of the biggest dumps of the season. Of course. Except, as luck would have it, the weather cleared yesterday afternoon and evening for the (free!) Jimmy Cliff concert in Vail. We had to go.  Here are a couple of pics from the concert and one of snow that we took from the porch of First Ray Yoga this morning.

Downtown Vail, April 14th, 2013

SpringBackVail

Jimmy Cliff mid air

Jimmy Cliff

Snow from the First Ray Yoga porch this morning 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Snow from deck

WALKING BACKWARDS

I’ve been given the advice here and there that I should, for lack of a better explanation, be more “flashy” in what I do. I’ve tried over the years to “sell” and try to be like other yoga teachers, but at the end of the day, I can’t. I gotta be me. So, I admit, in my love of teaching, movement, yoga and the human body, what I think about when I think of my next blog topic, isn’t too “flashy”, but its fascinating to me and truly, life changing! So, for this blog, here’s the topic: Walking Backwards – why and how.

In short, focusing on HOW I walk, sit, stand and move through life in every day movements literally saved me from a spinal fusion over a decade ago. I grew up dancing and became a professional dancer in a modern dance company. Through this wonderful journey, my body was a mess and I was in constant pain. At one point, I was told I needed spinal surgery because my lower lumbar discs were so degenerated. Through proper yoga alignment and the work of Sherry Brourman, PT, my life changed, and for the most part I’m pain free. And through all of this learning, is also why I’m a huge believer in PROPER alignment while practicing asana and AWARENESS in our every day life and movements.

While walking forwards, often, if we’re not aware of how to walk, this is what CAN happen:

– Our achilles and calves stay weak and tight

– Knees often lock, leading to knee pain and injury

– Gastrocnemius muscle stays weak from knees locking

– Hip flexors and thighs stay tight from walking with our legs forward, and not extending behind us

– Lower belly, specifically transverse abdominals, stays weak and literally asleep from knees locking

– Chest and ribs cage slightly leans back, keeping all the abdominal muscles weak and the lower back tight, compressed and weak

– Shoulders tend to roll slightly forward to compensate for the leaning backwards in the rib cage – this tightens the front of the shoulders, the chest, and makes the neck jut forward, weakening our neck muscles

SO, since I can’t explain in this blog HOW to walk forwards correctly without it turning in to a book, I encourage you to WALK BACKWARDS as often as possible. What walking backwards does, in short, is this:

– It gently forces our feet to work more, which will make our achilles, calves and your anterior tibialis muscle work more

– It gently makes our knees unlock, which is great for our knee health, and to strengthen our gastrocnemius muscle

– It will strengthen our hamstrings because we have to reach our foot back, it will also strengthen our gluteus maximus muscles and stretch our thighs and hip flexors!

– By stretching our quads and hip flexors, it helps to decompress our lower back and lengthen our spine – often times IMMEDIATELY relieving lower back pain!

– Helps to keep our rib cage from slightly thrusting back – when this happens, our spine lengthens and our abdominals have to work

– Walking backwards keeps the shoulders open and the neck from thrusting forward, helping to strengthen the upper back and neck

So, here are just a few reasons why I encourage you to walk backwards at least a few minutes each day. If your back is sore, walk backwards. Watch where you’re going of course, and try not to walk backwards in a foot of snow or ice. But notice, the more you do it, the greater the benefits!

If you’re in the Vail Valley area in June, please come by my workshop that I’ll be teaching at the Vail Athletic Club. The flier is below.

YogaStride:VAC

For my teaching and travel schedule, please visit my site at www.firstrayyoga.com – my travel schedule is at “Jamie’s travel schedule”, and my local schedule of workshops is under “local events” – the studio’s schedule is on the home page.

See you soon and let me know how your backwards walking goes!