Shanti Om – Portland Oregon

As I drove through the Oregon gray misty weather toward the airport, I kept repeating to myself Shanti Om, Shanti Om, Shanti Om! I’d just finished a Hatha yoga class at Shanti OM – a yoga studio in the St. James neighborhood of Northern Portland and I’m feeling the peaceful after affects of my practice.

It was hard to focus on the sights and sounds around me: beautiful bridges, slow moving trains and the Columbia River outside my window. All I could think about was the class I had just attended and how it had affected me. There is a lot that goes on during practice and it’s not all Asana. Being aware of our thoughts and how our bodies feel are important components of a yoga practice.

I flew into Portland 4 days prior weighed down by a wagon load of stress. My Grandmother had just died, the airplane tickets were expensive, I had to put my job on hold, I would be away from my guy for the duration and I was worried about family stresses. It was a lot. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through but hoped to make it to at least one yoga class over the course of the weekend.

Ashley Conger has been teaching on and off for about three years and usually teaches the prenatal classes at Shanti Om. It was fun to watch her demonstrate the poses with her baby bump proudly on display. This is Ashley’s second baby. It was during her first pregnancy that she discovered how compatible yoga is with the process of pregnancy and giving birth. After becoming certified to teach yoga she decided to also become a Doula so that she could assist other women make this life changing transition.

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Ashley’s manner is very calm and comforting. As she stood in front of the Golden Ganesh painted on the studio wall and led us through the poses I wondered why I was having such a hard time relaxing. I should have been able to walk in and melt onto the floor. Yoga is usually my therapy, my meditation and my church. But I was distracted. I wanted to move faster, breathe faster, work harder and maybe even break a sweat.

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When I am upset, angry, frustrated or emotional I clean or organize or walk or do something active. It keeps my mind from running in circles and worrying the problem to the bone. But my lesson today – the lesson about grief, mourning and the stress that accompanies a sad family get-together was that I needed to slow down, take time to breathe deeply, let go of the worry and remove the obstacles to Shanti OM – remove the obstacles to Peace.

I finally got there toward the end of class. I left feeling peace and grace and gratitude. Thank you Shanti Om and thank you Ashley. Grandma would have loved yoga! 🙂

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Reflexology with Ronda – St. Simons Island Georgia

My feet are very ticklish! I’m the one who embarrasses my daughter when we get a pedicure because I usually scream and try to pull away when they start to scrub my feet! So I was a little worried when I decided to book a Reflexology appointment with Ronda Porter at Balance Wellness Studio. I wasn’t really sure what all a reflexology appointment consisted of but I knew it involved my feet. But what the heck, I’m up for an adventure right?!

Ronda is the epitome of southern charm. This georgia girl has an easy open smile on her freckled face, waves upon waves of curly brown hair and that coastal georgia accent that makes you think of sweet tea, peach cobbler and warm summer nights.

Ronda lead me into her treatment room which is warm and comforting, soft light filters in through the cloth window blinds and posters of multi colored body parts – espescially feet and hands cover the walls. She put on soft massage-like music and invites me lie down on the table. The table is elevated at one end and I lay down with my head on the pillows. This is when Ronda tells me that I need to turn around an put my feet where my head is! I did it backwards – LOL….my feet go up on the pillows so that they are lifted above my heart.

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Ronda explains that having the feet lifted helps the body drain any fluids that could be accumulating in the lower extremities. It also makes it easier for the blood to flow back to the heart. As I put my feet up and lie down – correctly oriented this time – I feel a sigh escape my body. I am lying in the best ever Savasana and I know it’s going to be GOOD!

As Ronda begins to touch my feet I notice that she uses a firm grip and methodically works the entire foot – around the heel, the ankle, the outside edges, the toes and also the sole of my foot. She is looking for something and paying close attention. She presses strongly on some areas and tugs my toes. She wiggles my foot back and forth between her hands. At certain points on my foot I felt a strong reflex (what I thought of as a sore spot). When she sees me respond to each spot she spends more time on that area by pressing deeply and releasing in rhythm with my breathe. She borrows a line from the last yoga class she took from me, “Breathe in Love, Exhale Fear.”

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The entire body is a system of nerves. From the Central Nervous System (Brain and Spinal Column) out to the extremeties. In reflexology the feet and hands are massaged and manipulated to find “reflexes” that correspond to parts of our body. By pressing and massaging these areas of the hands and feet the body is encouraged to send blood flow to that area thereby sending healing and decreasing inflamation in that body part.

Ronda saved the best for last – the “Lymph Tug.” Ronda stands at the end of the table with her hands holding my heels and begins a slow rhythmic tug, tug, tug …….moving my body up and down slightly. It’s like being rocked to sleep! This tugging rhythm stimulates and encourages the lymph system to drain and it feels GREAT!

I really enjoyed my Reflexology session and I will go again! If you live in the Coastal Georgia area come by and see Ronda at Balance Wellness Studio and if you’re a little further away find a practitioner near you and give it a try! But please, be sure to wash your feet first! LOL….Enjoy!

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