You Are Cordially Invited to Change Your Life

Notes and News: One Yoga Center, Foster RI

Standing in Truth…

The image to the right was taken at the “hands across the sand” event in Narragansett Pier on Saturday June 26, 2010. Although attendance at the event was smaller then I anticipated, I was very happy to be there.

It is easy to take a stand in the face of  human suffering as we did when the forces of nature hit Haiti. But it is harder when the suffering and the masses of those who are suffering have no voice. The oil spill in the gulf is so much more then a set back to tourism, restricted access to beaches, a punch to the fishing industry.  This crisis is an ecological disaster that has the potential to wipe out species of creatures, coral reefs, and significantly impact the infrastructure of the planet and the way we live

There are 5 species of sea turtles that live in the gulf, one of which only nests there and no where else in the world. Two others are on the endangered or threatened species lists.  The whales found in the area are believed to be at risk due to the way they eat. They are at risk of ingesting large amounts of oil.  Concerns for the 9 species of dolphins living in the area include the risk of eating contaminated fish or starvation due to lack of fish. And, we have all seen the sad images of oil laden birds.  Can you imagine being them and experiencing the hopelessness that they feel as they are held captive in a slick coat of death? It is their homes, the marshlands, barrier reefs and beaches that we see, in the media, being impacted by the spill.

What we don’t see is what is happening beneath the surface of the ocean, to the coral reefs and deep sea inhabitants. Coral reefs are living organisms and they are home to many species of fish and sea animals. These reefs will be suffocated as microbes deep in the sea continue to eat the plumes of oil and deplete the oxygen needed by the coral. As the coral die off so will the beautiful spectrum of creatures dependent on it. The reverberation to the entire food chain is unthinkable but we must think about it, we must talk about it and we must take action.

It is one thing to cry over spilled milk and another to to take steps to assure that it never happens again. This is where we can really make a difference.  A bit of simple activism can make a big impact especially if you encourage others to join you. Let your local representatives know that this event has proven that off shore drilling is not safe and should not be supported. Learn about alternative energy options and support policy that encourages research into and the use of safe, clean energy sources. Participate in or hold organized gatherings to share and learn how you can help at the local, national and global level.  Be mindful of what you buy, avoid petroleum based products, drive only when necessary, consider a hybrid the next time you purchase a car.  The greatest activism is to live as an example of what you believe is right. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi – “be the change you wish to see in the world!”

Ramblings, November 9, 2010

The leaves have fallen, the geese are gathering and there is a cold chill in the air. Winter is arriving in New England and once again the season calls on me to slow down and spend sometime inside.

I have always experienced winter as a time of incubation. Not only do I find myself reigniting my interest in indoor activities, like  cooking, sprouting and beading, I also find myself drawn more deeply into my Yoga and meditation practice.  Essentially I am increasingly drawn inside my “self’ during these long winter days.

With the support of my teacher, students, friends and sangha (community) I continue to discover that introspection is not about hunkering in and trying to figure ‘things” out, but a process of letting go and allowing everything to simply be as it is. It is a surrendering of my fight with reality.  My desire to have things be something other then the way they are. It is an acceptance of life on life terms. A releasing of resistance to what is.

It is quite freeing, this process of acceptance. After all things are “as they are” aren’t they? When I relax into this truth, this process, I begin to really feel the perfection of it all. Nothing and no one needs to be other then the way they are. It is sense of grace, a beautiful thing!!!

Celebrating the Change of Seasons

Autumn 2014

Celebrating the Change of Seasons

As the evenings cool and the smell of wild grapes delight my senses, I experience a low hum of resistence and a feeling of exhilaration emerging at once.

I love the long full days of summer. Sunny walks on the beach, paddles on the water, veggies on the grill. But a part of me is hungry for the slowing down and the nurturing warmth of the hearth.

I welcome the balance that the change of seasons binds me too. It is a reminder of the inevitability of change. An opportunity to demonstrate flexibility and resilience as I embrace each day exactly as it is.

Each day I practice welcoming challenges as opportunities for growth and see life’s gifts as opportunities to deepen into my gratitude for this life. Good and bad, happy and sad, birth and death, summer and winter, resistance and exhilaration…dualities that can draw me into suffering or guide me on a path to greater awareness, wholeness and freedom.

Blessings, ellen

Advice from a Tree – a poem to share

Dear Friend,
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter
Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light
Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots
Enjoy the view!

Ilan Shamir

Note 9/2018

Namaste Beautiful Hearts,
I am enjoying the break in the humidity and the refreshing nip of autumn. It offers another reminder to yield to the patterns of transition that create rhythms in my life. Looking closely at these rhythms I see the teachings of yoga everywhere. Nature’s cycle of birth, growth, death and decay holds, for me, the greatest truth.
To truly embrace and accept this cycle as it unfolds within myself, my relationships, my work, even my beliefs, creates a level of awareness that allows me to ride the waves of what is. I don’t mean to imply that this is easy or that I am always successful. For me it is THE PRACTICE. It’s the practice of yoga off the mat. With concerted effort, day-by-day and momen-by-moment, I work to unhook from my conditioned, habitual ways of being. With ahimsa (non-violence), karuna (compassion) and satya (truthfulness) I remove my masks and veils of illusion to reveal the many ways I delude myself and dance in my own puddles.
2018 has been a year of unexpected challenges that have demanded my attention. My practice has been tested and my faith affirmed. I know deep in my soul that this work is the essential work. I admit that this ongoing unveiling of my conditioned personality can be quite painful and difficult to behold but I remember the teachings and acknowledge with compassion that these aspects of my character once served as a skin that helped me negotiate my sense of the world. As I bring discarded pieces of myself into consciousness with love, healing begins and yoga (wholeness) unfolds.
As I molt this skin that that has become too tight I feel space for the seeds within my heart to blossom. So again I yield to the cycle of nature arising within me. New birth and growth, death and decay.
May you find many blessings in the teachings of yoga and may they always be a guiding light. Thank you for the gift of knowing you.
Love and Namaste, ellen

Workshop Series, Deepen your Practice

Are you looking to go deeper with your yoga practice?  

Join Jennifer Spaziano for a special six-part, monthly workshop series.  Each session will incorporate various yogic techniques including: meditation, chanting, breath work, strength training and somatic movement.  While the final workshop will draw on all others, culminating in a home practice plan; any workshop can be taken on it’s own. Most levels can attend any session.

  • Fri Feb 8th 6:30 – 8:30 pm $25

A path with heart: Our heart resides at the center of our being: the midpoint between the absolute and the relative.   Discover how to act more consciously from your center. Poses will focus on hands, arms, shoulders, and chest (Anahata chakra).

  • Fri March 8th: 6:30 – 8:30 pm  $25

Reach new heights: Our ability to communicate the truth rests on our shoulders (literally and figuratively).  Experience the expansiveness and stillness offered by the air element. We will explore chanting and dyad work in addition to poses that will focus on the neck, throat (Vishuddha chakra), jaw, mouth and inner ear.

  • Fri April 5th: 6:30 – 8:30 pm $25

Bring it home: To achieve and maintain a sense of harmony in one’s life, we must work to align our feelings, thoughts and actions.  Bring to light inner dissonance and learn skills to find resiliency and peace. Students will be asked to reflect on their personal “dissonance” and create a home practice plan (Ajna & Sahasrara chakra).


Somatic Pop-up classes 2/14 & 3/14

Please click on the link to see the flyer for the Somatic pop-up classes

Somatic Pop-up Feb&Mar 2019

Video: Stroke of Insight

This is a moving and provocative look at left and right brain functioning and how it impacts the way we perceive and interact with the world. It demonstrates our capacity to directly experience our interconnectedness with all of life. This is available to all of us, in the moment. It is not reserved for mystics and ascetics, it is our birth right.

Embracing Possibility – By Ellen Schaeffer

Where do you see yourself in five years, one year, one week, or one day? This can be a difficult question to answer, but it is imperative that you hold vision for your life. Without vision, your life shifts into idle.

When you have an idea or vision for what you want to manifest in life, the wheels are set in motion. It is as if you’ve shifted out of “park” and into fast forward. All your thinking, creativity, active and passive energy begins to consciously and unconsciously direct itself toward that which you want to create.

It is really quite simple. Without a vision nothing happens. There is nowhere to direct your thoughts or energy. Without a vision, growth and movement comes to a halt.

With vision, life becomes a course of ongoing expansion, opening doors to INFINITE POSSIBILITY.

Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training Outline and Schedule

Saturday Teacher Training Session

  • 8:30-10:00 Yoga Practice
  • 10-10:15 Break
  • 10:15-12:30 Yoga History/Philosophy
  • 12:30-1:30 Lunch
  • 1:30-2:00 Yoga Nidra Practice (guided relaxation)
  • 2:00-3:30 Asana Focus (detailed study of poses)
  • 3:30-3:45 Break
  • 3:45-5:30 Methodology (didatic and experiential)
  • 5:30-6:30 Wrap up and closing

Sunday Teacher Training Session

  • 9:30-11:00 Yoga Practice
  • 11:00- 1:00 Methodology
  • 1:00-2:00 Lunch
  • 2:00-2:30 Yoga Nidra
  • 2:30-4:00 Asana Focus
  • 4:00-4:15 Break
  • 4:15-5:30 Yoga History/Philosophy
  • 5:30-6:00 Homework assignments and closing

Please note the start and end times on Saturday and Sunday. These never vary. The time given to each topic does vary, depending on what is being studied each weekend. This schedule is for the non-residential program offered through One Yoga Center and not for residential programs or other Integrative Yoga Therapy programs. Please note that students in non-residential Yoga Teacher Training will also need to participate in weekly Yoga classes outside of this schedule. there will also be reading, written home work and an internship to complete before certification.

Included in the History and Philosophy section are the following:

  • The History and evolution of Yoga as it moved from India to the West
  • The 5 koshas (levels of our being)
  • The 8 fold path including the Yamas and Niyamas (the 10 disciplines of Yoga)
  • Dual and non-dualistic philosophies of Yoga
  • Visit with a traditional Swami
  • The 5 Kleshas (the obstacles to personal growth)
  • The Chakras (energy centers)
  • Business practices and ethics

In Asana Focus we will study:

  • The details of alignment for yoga postures
  • The difference between the form and the function of the poses
  • How to adapt/modify postures for particular needs
  • Sequencing
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • The benefits of the poses
  • Contraindications
  • English and Sanskrit names
  • Somatics
  • Chair Yoga

Some of the topics covered in Methodology are:

  • Pranayama (Breathing Practices)
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Mudra (hand gestures for directing energy)
  • Class Construction -content and organization (complete exploration of each element of a class including; opening, warm-ups, posture sequence, guided relaxation and closing)
  • Teaching Techniques-finding your authentic style
  • Use of Themes and Education to create meaningful classes
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Practice Teaching (we will practice with each other)