ARC Fitness Project Ambassador

Just a few weeks ago I received an interesting message on Instagram from @arcfitnessproject. They are a brand new company and looking for ambassadors. They saw my profile and asked if I was interested. At first it looked similar to other organization that offer ambassador programs; a discount on products in exchange for posts featuring their items. Not a bad deal most of the time. But I hadn’t yet taken up offers since, even with a discount, the products generally are not cheap and not really high need items for me. The one company for which I have been an ambassador for a while is prAna. They actually have an application process and require proof that you are working in one of their fields i.e. yoga, outdoor adventuring, or climbing. I have loved their clothing, accessories, and mission since working at FIT3 back in 2011-12 so when I found out about their ambassador program for professionals it was an easy decision to apply.

I took a closer look at ARC Fitness Project and from their website saw they have more going on than others. ARC Fitness Project sell products to raise money for youth fitness education. Currently, a portion of ARC Fitness Project proceeds go towards funding youth athletics across the country through GoodSports. Since youth fitness is a most endangered school class I was quickly on board with their goals of youth fitness education.

So, I figured I better get in touch. Shortly there after two rather nice things happened. First, I agreed to be a yoga ambassador, went down to visit Gary and Tony at ARC Fitness Project headquarters in Santa Clara, received a mat (no cost), and we spent about a half hour or so shooting with their mat and wheel. Pictures in this entry are from the shoot!

Second, ARC Fitness and RISE Yoga for Youth became fast friends and will be announcing a partnership soon. Our first act as partners will be to attend a local YogaFest where I will lead a couple of youth yoga classes. Additionally, part of all ARC product sales at the event will go to RISE. SO, come visit us at YogaFest, bring a kid for the youth yoga, and feel free to buy a little merch!

Photos by Tony Phan

 

Finding to My Students

Back in June a couple of young ladies, Audrey Garces and Sarahbeth Maney, from the SF Examiner joined my Wednesday morning yoga class at Silver Avenue Family Health Center. They were summer interns at the paper and had seen an email asking if anyone wanted to run a story about our free community yoga class. Audrey and Sarahbeth seemed young and even said they were interns only for the summer, so I suspected the story would be tucked away somewhere deep in the paper. I was surprised to find on Sunday July 9th that their story and a picture of me was on the front page of the SF Examiner. In fact, the website had the article under ‘Breaking News’ for a few hours that day. :0

 

SF Examiner across the street from my building July 9th

It’s a good article and touches on the importance of yoga accessibility. Yoga accessibility has become a pretty big part of my career. I don’t currently have any studio affiliation. I work mostly with kids in school at their schools and beyond that I go to the health center and the Indiegogo offices. When I teach I am bringing class to the students rather than asking my students to find me. I believe this is important because, for most of the people I teach, there might be no other access to class or perhaps no real introduction to yoga beyond large scale media messages. Limited access can be caused by any number of reasons including a busy schedule, costs, or physical limitations.

 

“Jaedra DiGiammarino instructs a yoga class at the Silver Avenue Family Health Center in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)”

Of the approximately 20 million people practicing yoga in the United States about 82% are women 68% are earning over $75,000 annually, and 71% are college graduates according to the video Yoga Diversity:Introduction. At this point these statistics are not at all shocking because it is precisely this young, educated, affluent demographic that is the receiving end of almost all yoga marketing.  I have yet to see a yoga brand (clothing, mats, props etc.) with a model older than about 29. A cursory google images search of “yoga wear for seniors” might have mistaken seniors, meaning men and women over about 60, for seniors in high school as none of the models appear to be more than 18.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with young affluent women practicing yoga. And perhaps it’s a good thing that no one is marketing to older or underserved demographics yet because you don’t need $100 pants or a $30 yoga block to practice yoga. You just need a little space. I believe there are many many students not yet practicing who might like and benefit from yoga study. In fact it was my now 87 year old grandfather, a former educator himself who started practicing yoga long after retirement, that just a few years ago mentioned perhaps having yoga in every school would be a great benefit to students and society as a whole.

 

Teresita Datu participates in a yoga class at the Silver Avenue Family Health Center in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Right now yoga seems like a trend but, it’s an ancient practice with benefits gaining merit through modern research. It’s here to stay. While having a yoga teacher at school seems luxurious right now I hope that in the not too distant future schools will have a yoga and wellness educator in the same way that we currently have a PE coach or an English/Social Studies teacher. Additionally, health centers will become places of real health, rather than where you go only when you are sick. People will see their doctor for preventative care, advice on things like nutrition and exercise which will be readily available through services like food education and our humble class at Silver Avenue Family Health Center.

Aparigraha

Aparigraha is the last of the Yamas. It can be translated as non-possessiveness or sharing.

This past week I was back at the Presidio YMCA with the 3-5th grade yoga campers.

On Monday we learned the Yamas: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Bramacharia, and Aparigraha and together the kids decided on a group name The 9 Yogi Jedi including all 7 campers, myself, and one other counselor.

Group Navasana

On Tuesday Grant, a new camper, joined us. We went from being The 9 Yogi Jedi to The 10 Yogi Jedi. We spent the day on a fantastic field trip to Green Gulch Farm.

Visiting the honey bees at Green Gulch Farm

On Wednesday we were back in the yoga studio and we went over the Yamas with Grant, the 10th Yogi Jedi. We spent a little extra time on Aparigraha. Detachment or non-possessiveness  is an interesting and difficult concept. I offered an example, “It’s like if one day I buy a nice sweater and I really like my nice new sweater but I actually already have a pretty good sweater at home and I don’t really need a second one. Then I meet someone without any sweaters at all so I offer them one of my sweaters.” We also talked about not being too upset when we loose something as well as sharing space like sharing a room with a sibling or guest.

On Thursday Darth Vader, one of the campers, was out sick for the day. The rest of us made meditation jars.

Watching the glitter fall. The yellow one on the left was the original demo jar.

On Friday Darth Vader was back and impressed by our cool mediation jars. He asked if he could have the one I had made as a demo. I had been thinking about holding on to it to use in other classrooms but then Grant said, “It’s just like the sweater. Darth doesn’t have one so we should give him this one.” I was so happy he remembered the story. I couldn’t argue with that, nor did I have any desire to argue with him. I definitely wanted Darth to have the meditation jar. About 45 minutes later we presented our end of camp yoga demonstration to one of the parents who was a little early for pick up and wanted to see what we had learned. After the demo all the kids picked up their awesome meditation jars to show her. This poor woman was swarmed by 8 Yogi Jedi. One little Yogi Jedi, Gabie, in all the excitement dropped her glitter filled glass mason jar on the breezeway’s cement floor. Everyone was fine but the jar shattered. Glitter and colorful water spilled in every direction. We cleared the area and got some help cleaning up. Practicing aparigraha, Gabie wasn’t too upset by the loss. Another 10 minutes or so go by. With the exception of our short presentation Darth had been gazing at his new mediation jar for just about all of the last hour. Now he picked it up and brought it over to the table where the girls were sitting to offer it to Gabie to keep.

International Yoga Day

Today, June 21st 2017, is the summer solstice. The longest day of the year. It is also International Yoga Day or so says the myriad of Instagram and Facebook posts that have been popping up on my feeds today. Perhaps we could blend the two together and practice the Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar, honoring and thanking the sun on the longest day of the year and practicing our asana at the same time. Or, if you happen to be in Australia, you could practice the Moon Salutation, Chandra Namaskar, to honor and give thanks to the moon for the longest night of the year.

Silver Avenue Family Health Center Yogis in Navasana

 

This morning, like most Wednesday mornings, I arrived at the Silver Avenue Family Health Center to lead two community yoga classes. We pushed the chairs, tables, and other conference room items out of the way and set up our mats, blocks, bolsters, and blankets; two rows of four and a little room in the back should a ninth and tenth student show up. Two weeks ago we had a special addition to our class, Melissa Culross from KCBS radio. Today I was eager to share the radio clips she had put together which aired on KCBS news. Everyone was delighted by the stories. We especially loved hearing our fellow yogis speaking! Go ahead and hear it for yourself…

Silver Avenue Family Health Center Yogis in Virbadrasana 3

 

 

Pose a Day Series: Savasana

Sunday: Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Savasana is deep relaxation, it is not sleep. This is the moment in your practice when all muscles relax. In the mind you may want to scan the body starting with the toes and working your way up to the head releasing the muscles as you go. Corpse pose is perhaps the most important pose of all. It is the time for the whole body to heal.

This pose is an offering to the Silver Avenue Family Health Center Community Yoga Class

Make your offering here. 

Pose a Day Series: Matsyasana

Friday: Matsyasna (Fish Pose)
Matsyasana is a stretch for the thyroid; after squeezing out the thyroid in halasana now stretch the neck to encourage fresh blood to flow through that region. Because the thyroid helps to regulate hormones, this stretch can help to improve mood irregularities. 
Be sure the top of your head is connecting to the mat and holding some of your weight.

This pose is an offering to the Silver Avenue Family Health Center Community Yoga Class

Make your offering here.

Pose a Day Series: Halasana

Thursday: Halasana (Plow Pose)
Halasana is a big upper back stretch and thyroid squeeze. It is important to keep the hands supporting the lower back, to protect your neck, until your feet are able to touch the ground over your head holding some of your body weight. Plow pose most often follows sarvangasana.

This pose is an offering to the Silver Avenue Family Health Center Community Yoga Class

Make your offering here.

Pose a Day Series: Sarvangasana

Wednesday: Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
Sirsasana is the king of the poses, Sarvangasana is known as the queen and, will often follow headstand in a Dharma practice.
This is a core and back strengthener and is also good for the heart.
Shoulder stand is another good pose in which to pause and meditate!

This pose is an offering to the Silver Avenue Family Health Center Community Yoga Class

Make your offering here.

Pose a Day Series: Shashankasana into Sirsasana

Tuesday: Shashankasana (Hare Pose) into Sirsasana (Headstand Pose)

Both hare and headstand strengthen the muscles in the neck and back.

Both poses are good for giving the heart a break as gravity draws the blood down towards the heart. Both poses are good for the brain.

As you progress from hare pose to headstand take it one step at a time, mastering each pose before moving on to the next. Once you are comfortable in a pose take a few breathes, try meditation (or complete focus) before moving on to the next pose. 

These poses are an offering to the Silver Avenue Family Health Center Community Yoga Class

Make your offering here.