Loving-Kindness Practice

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Loving-Kindness Practice

Sacred and potentially life changing, loving-kindness practice dates back over 2,000 years to the time of the Buddha. The beauty of this practice lies in its simplicity and gentleness, yet it has the power to bring complex and latent emotions to the surface. Rather than trying to get rid of unpleasant or unwanted sensations, loving-kindness practice can offer protection and stability for you to examine and become aware of these difficulties within, bringing with it the ability to heal and let go.

According to the Metta Sutta (the original text written by the Buddha) loving-kindness is practiced in a specific way: we begin with what's easiest to rest our heart into, allowing us to grow the strength and resilience of the heart, and eventually move into more difficult and challenging territory. 

This formal meditation practice can then be brought into daily life, tasks, activities, relationships, and a variety of situations and circumstances with a good deal of individual creativity. Over time, loving-kindness has the potential to slowly but effectively grow the compassion, confidence, and wisdom of the heart.

Join me in Loving-Kindness Practice at Unfold Portland — a 6-week immersion of the heart. This workshop has sold out for two years in a row. Mark your calendars for next January… this one is only offered once per year: http://www.carolgrimesyoga.org/special-events/

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What is Yoga for Joint Release?

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What is Yoga for Joint Release?

Yoga for Joint Release is an anti-arthritic joint release series — a set series of poses where we move one by one through each joint in the body, moving them in as many directions as possible.

As we increase awareness of our joints and improve the mobility through our joints, we prevent and reduce pain and inflammation, decrease the risk of illness and injury, improve our overall health and wellness, and learn how to keep our joints happy & healthy for many years to come.

I teach this 6-week series twice a year because I so firmly believe in it’s effectiveness. My connection began in 2008 when one of my teachers, Rae Minten, taught this series to me as we practiced together weekly in my living room. I have a strong history of arthritis in my family, and even in my 20’s my joints were stiff and crackly and cranky, sometimes inflamed, and basically just difficult to move. I noticed that as we practiced, my joints began to feel more free and I began to move with much more ease and mobility. I also felt more energetically alive, my breath was more present and full, and my joints felt lubricated and loved!

The general structure of the class is as follows:
1. Open and release body and mind with a gentle warm-up —- I designed these warm-up poses to relax and strengthen the muscles, so that we may move our joints with more ease throughout the rest of class.
2. Practice a set series of joint-release poses to enhance joint health & mobility —- This is the joint series described above - it takes about 20-30 minutes.
3. Learn relaxation, massage, and myofascial release techniques to relieve muscular stiffness —- I added this component to the class because I believe massage is a powerful force to reduce muscular stiffness and inflammation, and improve circulation and blood flow.

Are you a believer yet? Join me and see for yourself… Yoga for Joint Release is a 6-week series offered 2-3 times per year at Unfold Portland. See next offering here: http://www.carolgrimesyoga.org/special-events/

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GRATITUDE TO MY TEACHERS

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GRATITUDE TO MY TEACHERS

This Spring, I've had the opportunity to engage in both a 10-day vipassana meditation retreat on Salt Spring Island, as well as a 4-day advanced yoga teacher training in Breitenbush.

Just like you, I have my own team of teachers to help encourage me along the path, and inspire me to become a wiser and more balanced human being. Their support and guidance allows me to bring an authentic and sincere heart to all of my classes, so that I can serve my students in the best way possible.

Whether you find a yoga teacher, a spiritual teacher, or a mentor, it is important to surround yourself with as many inspirational and supportive people as possible in your life to encourage consistent growth and to find the right amount of transformation necessary to discourage stagnation and promote creativity. Most of us will find ourselves playing the role of both student and teacher at different points in our lives, sometimes at the same time.

If you have the intention of finding a spiritual teacher, watch that person closely for many years until you are confident in their deep integrity. Don't give all your power to them... even the most realized spiritual teacher is human and can become corrupt and abuse their power in a moment of blindness. If they do falter, a true teacher will be open to hearing the truth and admit their mistake. Although it is important to respect and honor your teacher, you don't need to put them on a pedestal. Remember, if you continue seriously on a spiritual path, it is very possible that someday you will become the equal of your teacher, or even surpass them in spiritual knowledge and practice.

I am grateful for the many wonderful teachers I've had in my life thus far. I wouldn't be where I am today without them...

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RESTORATIVE LOVE

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RESTORATIVE LOVE

I began a daily restorative yoga practice when my meditation teacher told me that there are four ways to meditate: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down. It took a teacher saying so to help validate my instinct to practice lying down on the days when my body was too full of tension, stress, or pain to make sitting meditation possible. 

How is a restorative practice different from meditation? In restorative yoga, we are working on relaxing the physical body with no effort involved in trying to control the mind. As the body relaxes, the mind can follow, often entering into a dream-like state, allowing the natural wisdom of the body to take over and begin the process of self-healing. It's one of the best practices to recover from stress, fatigue, injury, sickness and any kind of chronic condition, such as chronic pain.

Relaxing isn't always easy... when our body relaxes and releases tension, emotions and feelings can rise to the surface that are unfamiliar and scary. This is normal. In order for our body to release, let go, and heal, we need to allow ourselves to fully feel the emotions that present themselves inside us. On the up side, beautiful emotions can arise as well, and often do. It's exciting... we never know what can happen during practice! 

It can help to do restorative yoga with a teacher so that your body can learn how to fully relax, feel, and heal in a safe and supportive environment. My own daily practice helped me to heal from chronic pain, and I love sharing what I've learned in my journey with my students.

Here's hoping you will be inspired to join me in the underrated and underutilized but wholly amazing and fantastic practice of restorative yoga...

Chant, Heal, Restore is a restorative workshop offered twice a year at Unfold Portland. Find next offering here: http://www.carolgrimesyoga.org/special-events/

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Teacher Feature

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Teacher Feature

EB: What made you interested in teaching yoga?

CG: Before I started teaching yoga, I looked successful and driven at surface level, but in reality most of the time I felt unbalanced and unfulfilled. Yoga was the main practice at the time that provided me with moments of balance and wholeness, as well as relief from chronic back pain. With a regular yoga/meditation practice and with the help of a few key teachers, I gained enough courage and insight to consider teaching yoga as a more authentic path for myself.

EB: What do your students say that they love about working with you?

CG: My students often appreciate my calming voice and peaceful presence. I had one student call my teaching style, "yoga candy" because they felt so good in their body after class. Students have expressed that they don't feel pressured in my class, feel as though they've nurtured/taken care of themselves, and feel as though they've been able to make a deeper spiritual connection.

EB: Fill in the blank: I love working with students who ______________?

CG: I love working with students who are dedicated to their practice and are wanting to feel more at ease in their bodies and in their lives. My passion is to work with people who are experiencing pain or illness in their bodies or hearts, and who are seeking a healthy way to relieve or understand their current state of body or mind.

EB: Anything else?

Yoga is an intense study of the self that you can't get from any one teacher or book. You have to practice it and find out for yourself. Teaching is an opportunity to share with others a practice that I believe in, in the hopes that my students will make their own rich discoveries.

This interview was featured in the December 2015 edition of the Unfold Studios Newsletter.

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SERVING TEENS IN CHRONIC PAIN

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SERVING TEENS IN CHRONIC PAIN

Oregon Health & Science University Research Teens with Chronic Pain

Carol Grimes writes:
"Every Tuesday, my teaching partner Stephanie and I teach yoga and mindfulness to a group of very special teens up at OHSU. These are teens who have already begun to experience tremendous physical pain at a very young age and who are wise beyond their years because of it. They are ready and hungry for any wisdom we can offer them, and many of them have already begun to experiment with what they are learning at home. With chronic pain, it's easy to feel hopeless and alone, therefore, one of the most powerful aspects of the group is that they get to meet other kids their age that they can relate to and share their experiences with. Yoga and mindfulness have been the most important tools of my own healing journey. It's an honor to be able to share these practices with others, especially with such an engaged and passionate group of young people."

We're halfway through our first eight-week course for teens and feedback has been excellent. Here's what one parent shared (the teen's name has been changed): 

"I am Mark's mom and wanted to give you some feedback from his Physical Therapist. Since Mark started the class, his PT has noticed an improvement in Mark's posture. Mark has also made significant progress in the last three weeks to the point where the is able to start strength training. I personally cannot believe that in just three sessions so much can improve, but I am so overjoyed that this is the case. One request that his PT asked is if Mark can continue the class even after the eight weeks. Many thanks for your study and I do hope there are considerable learnings from this for everyone."

This is an excerpt from the Peace in Schools newsletter. Click here to read full version...

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