Bike to Yoga is Thursday June 26, 2014!

 

Diana Laughlin

To celebrate Bike to Work / Bike to Play week in Estes Park, we are offering a FREE Bike to Yoga class on Thursday June 26 from 6 – 7pm at Stanley Park! Anyone who rides a bicycle (any kind!) to the class can join us for free. The class will feature cyclist-specific yoga poses to stretch and strengthen shoulders, hips, ankles, back, and core.

The class meets at the playground of Stanley Park at 380 Community Drive which you can access by bike paths from the Estes Park Visitor’s Center & Lake Estes Trail. You could park at the Visitor’s Center, and have an easy 7-minute ride on bicycle paths the whole way: Here’s your route.

The main event of Bike to Work / Bike to Play week is Wednesday June 25. Cyclists will be offered a free breakfast, coffee, giveaways, activities, bike check-ups, live entertainment and a chance to win prizes from 6 a.m.- 9 a.m. at the Estes Park Visitor Center, 500 Big Thompson Avenue. Estes Park joins communities across the state to encourage residents to try bicycle commuting as a healthy and safe alternative to driving, and activities will take place rain or shine.Marc_Tonya_Diana_2013

“Bicycling is a healthy, environmentally friendly option for commuting to work – and it makes parking easy!” commented Estes Park Town Administrator Frank Lancaster. More free events continue throughout the week of June 21 – 28: More information.

 

Yoga Story Time at the Library May 15, 2014

kids yoga 007Yoga Story Time at Estes Valley Library on Thursday, May 15 at 10am and 10:30am: Games, music, and storytelling help children ages 6 & under and their parents, grandparents, or caregivers to move and have fun doing yoga together. Kids learn about movement and relaxation. Parents get to share a healthy lifestyle activity with their child. Bring a yoga mat, if you have one. We have a limited number of mats available to borrow. You could also bring a baby quilt or bath towel, instead of a mat. Comfortable, athletic clothing is recommended. FREE! No sign-up required. The 30 minute program repeats at 10am and 10:30am.

Financial Health = Physical Wellbeing – Free Class at Estes Valley Library

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 7pm at Estes Valley Library: 

The research is clear: taking care of that financial mess on your desk will improve your health.  Hard to believe?  Come hear Diana Laughlin discuss the relationship between your physical well-being and the way you manage your bill paying, investing, credit card debt, and money-related decision-making.  Diana will provide many ideas for making the financial chores easier and quicker, so you can reduce your stress and feel good. FREE! Sign-up required through Estes Valley Library, click on “Calendar”.

Kids say: “We Love Savasana!”

The Old Elementary School is starting to be torn down so there were lots of noises and disruptions at Kids Yoga in the Aquatic Center Gym today. It was hard for the kids to focus. They enjoyed making fun of the sounds and yelling at the walls to “Be Quiet!” As we approached the end of class, I explained that it was too noisy to do Savasana, so we would just do cool-down stretches instead. Simultaneously, the kids replied, “Awwww. But we LOVE Savasana!” I quickly agreed, and we got to enjoy relaxation thanks to the kids’ dedication to a complete yoga practice. Kids Yoga EVRPD 005 Kids Yoga EVRPD 003

Today was the last class in the 5-week Spring Kids Yoga Session. Watch for another class next Fall or Winter with Estes Valley Recreation and Park District.

 

Kids and Mommy/Daddy & Me Yoga

Introducing kids to yoga is a great way to encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle! Yoga builds large motor skills, kinesthetic awareness, balance, concentration, and relaxation. A yoga class with kids looks very different from a class for adults at a yoga studio. We play games, dance, giggle, and tell stories. Here’s how to bring yoga into your child’s life:

         Mommy/Daddy & Me Yoga            Ages 1 – 5 

at Estes Park Massage on Mondays from 1 – 2pm, starting Feb 3, 2014

kids yoga 007

A class for young children to attend with their Mom / Dad / Grandparent / Nanny / Family Friend, etc. Games, music, and storytelling will get kids ages 1 – 5 and their parents to have fun doing yoga together. Kids will learn about movement and relaxation. Parents get to share a healthy lifestyle activity with their child. Price applies to parent and there is no charge for the child’s participation. One adult with child pay $10 total. If both parents attend, cost to the second parent is $5 = $15 total. Undivided attention for one child is best… I recommend bringing your spouse, parent, friend, etc. to be your second child’s yoga partner. No registration required. Attend as many or as few classes as you like.

Kids Yoga!            Grades K – 3 from 3:30 – 4:30pm          Grades 4 – 8  from  4:45 – 5:45pm     

with EVRPD   on Wednesdays March 5 – April 2, 2014    at Aquatic Center Gym

kids yoga 014

Games, music, and storytelling will get kids to have fun doing yoga and learning about movement and relaxation. Kids attend this class without a parent. We learn basic yoga poses and relaxation techniques. We include partner yoga poses and group poses for a fun way to connect with friends. Pre-Registration with EVRPD required for the whole series. $33 In-district / $44 Out-of-district for the 5-week session. Call EVRPD for more info & to register at 970-586-8191.

Hope to see you at a yoga class soon!

kids yoga 001

Yoga for Athletes Home Sequence

Yoga benefits athletes by building flexibility in muscle groups that get tight, like hamstrings, hips, shoulders, and low back. Yoga adds strength to muscles that are overlooked in our workouts, like arches of the feet, ankles, and core. These 7 poses are a great balance to your more strenuous workouts. Practice each pose for 30 seconds – 2 minutes and feel free to move around and figure out how to get the best stretch for you. This sequence is great for runners, hikers, climbers, skiers, and snowboarders.

Trikonasana

Trikonasana: Triangle Pose stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs, and low back while building core strength.

 

Parsvottanasana

Parsvottanasana: Pyramid Pose stretches the hamstrings and shoulders while building strength in the low back.



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Natarajasana

Natarjasana: Dancer’s Pose stretches the quad muscles and opens the heart. It is a back bend that strengthens the muscles along the spine. This pose builds balance and strength in the ankles and feet.

 

Dolphin

Dolphin: a great shoulder and core strengthener! The closer you walk your feet in, the more challenging it is. Stretches the hamstrings and calf muscles. The top of the head points towards the ground, but does not touch. Upper body weight is supported by the shoulders.

 

Eka Pada Kapotasana Active

Eka Pada Kapotasana: Pigeon Pose- active version is a deep hip-opener and a back bend that builds strength.

 

Eka Pada Kapotasana Restorative

Eka Pada Kapotasana: Pigeon Pose- restorative version continues the deep hip-opening while the core and upper body relax. This pose stretches the outer hip of the front leg and hip flexor of the rear leg.

 

Enjoy the View

Enjoy the view. Take a few minutes at the end of your yoga session to rest and practice mindfulness. Feel gratitude for the health and strength of your body. Appreciate the benefits you feel after practicing yoga. Take a few deep, calming breaths. Namaste.

Take a Meditation Walk

Meditation WalkSpend a little time in nature. Let the busy world spin around you while you turn your attention inside. All you have to do is breathe and walk.

But… I don’t have time. It’s too cold outside. I’ll run into people I know. The trail is too far away. I don’t like walking. It’s too boring/scary/lonely/quiet/weird/selfish to walk alone. My family needs me.

You may be familiar with these excuses.

With our potential to grow into the best humans we can be and create the best life we can imagine, do these excuses really hold any weight? We must demand the time & space to grow from our lives.

This is, after all, why we are here.

A meditation walk need not be long. 10 minutes is sufficient and there is always 10 minutes. There is no need to drive to a trailhead. Try leaving from your front door. Dress for the weather to be comfortable. There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.

Be brave and take a walk. Breathe. Let go of your thoughts and emotions. See what lies beneath them. Look around. Smile. Walk slowly enough to take it all in. Observe how your day and your life can shift with a little nurturing. All you have to do is breathe and walk.

Fall LeavesMore Home Yoga Practice Sequences:

Basic Home Yoga Practice: 7 Poses

Wake Up Quick Morning Yoga: 5 Poses

 

Basic Home Yoga Practice: 7 Poses

These poses are great for beginners and experienced yogis looking for a basic home practice yoga sequence. Spend between 30 seconds and 2 minutes on each pose. Don’t worry so much about if you’re doing it “right.” Instead, just do what feels right to you. Yoga is about connecting to your Inner Self, so practice letting your intuition guide your practice. If your intuition washed away in the Colorado Flood, just practice these 7 basic poses every day at home and see what happens.

Virabhadrasana 1Virabhadrasana 1 / Warrior 1

Step your right foot back, bend your left knee. Both hips point forward. Left knee is bent, right leg is straight. Lift your arms overhead. Feel strength and expansion. A good first pose to warm-up. Do both sides.


Virabhadrasana 2Virabhadrasana 2 / Warrior 2

Face the long edge of your mat. Turn your right toes towards the short edge, left toes towards the long edge. Hips point to the long edge. Bend your right knee, keep your left leg straight. Lift your arms to T, and look over your right hand. Lengthen your limbs out from your core center. Do both sides.

VrikshasanaVrikshasana / Tree Pose

Pick a spot on the ground to gaze at. Shift your weight into your right leg. Lift your left foot to your calf or inner thigh. Press the left foot into your standing leg, so it stays in place. Start with hands on hips. When you feel steady, lift the arms overhead. Do both sides.

Adho Mukha ShvanasanaAdho Mukha Shvanasana / Downward Dog

From hands and knees, tuck your toes and lift your hips up & back. Press down through the hands to find strong shoulders and a straight back. If you are outside, look behind you for the view. It’s fun to look at the world upside down.

 



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PlankPlank Pose

From Downward Dog, rock forward to find your hips in line with your legs and back. This is a great core strengthener. My friend likes to time herself and see how long she can hold plank pose. Shaking means you are working and that’s good.

 

BhujangasanaBhujangasana / Cobra

From Plank, lower down on to your belly. Keep your hands hands under your shoulders. Pull in your belly buttom to engage the core. Lift your chest up and as you pull your heart forward and roll shoulders back. Keep your core engaged so you strengthen the low back, rather than strain it.

Jathara ParivartanasanaJathara Parivartanasana / Spinal Twist

Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Open your arms to T on the ground with palms face up. Twist your knees to the right and lower them to the ground. This is a relaxing pose to balance out the strengthening poses and re-set the low back.

 

That’s it. Congratulations, you practiced yoga outside of class. Well, you’re probably just sitting there reading this, so consider that right now is most likely the perfect time to take a few minutes to practice yoga.

FriendsTry finding a beautiful spot to practice yoga and a friend or two to join you, like we did for these photos in the Estes Park mountains. Or, kick your husband out of your living room, and get in a quick yoga practice in your sweat pants. Yoga is complex, but we can keep it simple and make it real in our lives. Namaste.

More Home Practice Sequences:

Wake Up Morning Quick Yoga Sequence: 5 Poses

Take a Meditation Walk

 

Don’t Read Books About Hitch-Hiking

This is what happens when you get inspired by Mark Dean Kneeskern, author and publisher of The Last American Hitch-Hiker: Tales of Wonder. Strange possibilities start to grow in one’s mind… for example maybe I could get dropped off in Denver, walk along the Colorado Trail to Breckenridge, and hitch-hike back to Estes Park for a low-carbon-footprint, easy-on-the-wallet wilderness adventure. Sounds like a good idea to me, so off I go!BP meadow pic

Maybe I’m not the only one who has morbid thoughts like, “What if I get out the backcountry and find out that someone has died?” A friend of mine was camped in the Wind River Range and hiked out after the planes stopped flying on September 11, 2001. I honestly don’t know that I would have noticed.




Rain was falling every day in Summit County in September 2013, and it was overcast with eerie, low-lying clouds which made me scared to walk over 12,000 ft Georgia Pass, but I did anyway. This blog isn’t a safety manual or anything, by the way.

Overcast skies

I triumphantly finished my 8 day hike on 9/12/13 and arrived at the trailhead between Breckenridge and Frisco. Or should I say, I managed to stop crying, calling home, and having mini-epics everyday for long enough to get some hiking done. I caught the free Summit Stage bus into Frisco and tried to enjoy a sandwich, but my pits were too stinky to lift my elbows above hip level. It wasn’t raining yet and life was great, except that Marc wasn’t answering his phone. I left him a nasty voicemail about it, so that will show him.Trailhead

I marched out to the interstate on-ramp and stuck out my thumb. (I hope my mom isn’t reading this.) A builder heading home to Georgetown stopped after I’d waited only about 5 minutes. Mark Kneeskern says in his book that girls have it easy when it comes to hitch-hiking, and I think he’s right. The driver told me there was flooding in the Front Range and turned on NPR: see, he must be an alright guy. I nervously started calling friends, but no one was picking up.

My first driver was no stranger to hitchers, so he showed me where to wait for my next ride. Sure enough, I had another ride within 15 minutes from a professional-looking guy heading to Denver. We had his radio and smart phone working the case to figure out where I should go from there. Did I mention today is Thursday, September 12, 2013? The night Elkhorn Ave in Estes Park became a river.Estes Park flooding

I decided on the strategic placement of Idaho Springs for the night, which gave me a multitude of options for tomorrow: friend Maggie in Granby, Shoshoni Yoga Retreat in Rollinsville (near Nederland), friends in Boulder and Denver, or possible re-entry into Estes Park. I broke the budget and got a room at the Indian Hot Springs, because it was POURING. I had the best shower of my life and slept in a bed. Don’t you appreciate these things so much more after backpacking?

Morning found me sitting in a hotel room watching the news about a disaster that was happening to all of my friends, eating stale crackers for breakfast, and wishing the clothes that I washed in the sink last night would dry. At least Marc and I figured out that we could exchange Google chat messages on my phone, and keep in touch. Estes Park lost cell service for 48 hours, but our house still had internet.

I called Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, who said of course I could come stay. I braved a stroll down the road-that-became-a-river into town. Three more hitches, and I was there. It sure gets cold going over Central City Parkway in the back of a pick-up truck (sorry, mom). We drove right by a mess of police officers too, but they didn’t seem to care. More important things were going on, I suppose.Ashram



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I showed up at Shoshoni cold, wet, scared, lonely, and hungry. May Shiva bless those self-less yogis! They gave me a bed, shower, hot tea, dry clothes from lost-n-found, and let me do a load of laundry. I joined them for lunch, and then they put me to work. Hauling firewood helps keep one focused on the present. Thank you, Shoshoni!

Little did I realize during my pleasant yoga sojourn that none other than Michael Barnthouse, aka The Wolf, was planning a rescue mission. To quote Marc, “If I ever need a rescue, I’m sending the Search & Rescue away and asking for Michael Barnthouse.” Focused, reticent, and always on the move, Michael gets stuff done. Headed home from work in Southern Colorado, he offered to drive me and another friend, who was stuck in Golden, home to Estes Park.

Michael estimated he would be at Shoshoni at 11am. The Wolf is never late so I scurried to finish cleaning the bathrooms. Sure enough, he arrived at 10:50am and my last hitch was among friends. Peak to Peak Highway was open to residents only at the time. Michael got us through the National Guard checkpoint in 30 seconds flat, despite the line of excited disaster-seekers and confused-looking tourists (but they always look confused, don’t they?)

We spared no time for sightseeing at the new Lake of Saint Malo or ski run on Twin Sisters Peaks, and boggied right into Estes Park. I feel grateful to have survived the Colorado flood of 2013 and made it home safely, albeit two days later than planned. Be sure not to read books about hitch-hiking, unless you want to get the twitches for an adventure too. Have you ever hitched or picked someone up? I welcome your comments below.

BP in aspens

Happy Travels,

Diana

 

The Lotus Blooms Out of the Swamp: One Yogi’s Response to Current Events

Estes Park flooding

Intersection of Fish Creek & Brodie, Estes Park

Estes Park and the front range cities suffer a one-thousand-year flood. Homes, businesses, and even entire towns are lost. Our congress can’t find an agreement, and the federal government is shut down. Rocky Mountain National Park closes, leaving Estes Park with only one road out. Between flood damage in the National Forest, destroyed roads, and a closed National Park, I couldn’t think of a single hike that can currently be done in the Estes Valley without trespassing (if you know of one, please comment below and let us know). The number of layoffs and furloughs continue to grow. It’s going to be a challenging winter for Estes Park.

It’s easy to lose oneself in the muck in times like these. Exhaustion and sadness made me sit and read a book all day today, and even caffeine didn’t help. (Check out Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.)




But, this is exactly what we have been PRACTICING yoga for: a disaster in which we need help and we can help others, a country at odds with itself and a government that is broken. It is precisely in times like these that we use our practice. To bring strength to our community. Peace to our minds. And health to our bodies. We PRACTICE yoga when times are good, so that we KNOW yoga when times are bad. Use your practice now. Breathe. Move. Stretch. Be the best person you can be right now. Our town and our country need our help to bloom out of this swamp.

Erin meditates on flood debris.

Erin meditates on flood debris.

Let’s ignore anxiety, sadness, and anger. Let’s cultivate hope, optimism, and love. Will it help anything? Well, it may not directly change the situation, but it could change our reaction to the situation. If we practice responding with love instead of anger, we’ll be better prepared to find common ground when we disagree and discover more ways to help each other. Maybe if we do that locally, our positive outlook will spread. This town and this country are a collective whole of each one of us. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and smile.

I welcome your comments below, Diana Nanda Devi Laughlin.