Yoga Tuesdays & Fridays, 9-10:15, Thursdays, 2-3 Town Square

Experience relieving stress and soothing the nervous system.  Dynamic flow and static postures. Rest and restore by using bolsters, blankets, blocks in restorative postures.  Enjoy the serene  environment with therapeutic sounds. Meditation and gentle stretching.

Source: Rest and Restore Yoga for Stress Management – Waterville Valley Yoga

Waterville Valley Slow Yoga is Strong Yoga

TUESDAY, ‘Slow is Strong’, 9:00-10:15, Town Square

THURSDAY, ‘Open Level Vinyasa’, 2:00-3:15, Town Square

FRIDAY, ‘Restorative Yoga’, 9:00-10:15, Town Square

SATURDAY, By Appointment, Town Square

SUNDAY, ‘Open Level Vinyasa’ 9:00-10:15, White Mountain Athletic Club

Treat yourself to some stress reduction by coming to yoga.  Train our breath, movement, gazing (drsti), sensing, and intuition.  Build strength, balance and endurance at your own level.  You’ll receive personal assistance for prop set-up.  At the end we do a deep Savasana with therapeutic sound and props.  The session lasts approximately an hour and 15 minutes.  You’ll lose track of time without doubt!

Classes are held in a fully equipped yoga studio located in Waterville Valley Town Square.  The studio is located on the 2nd floor above The Bookmonger, and is conducive for yoga with natural sunlight. 

Empower Your Mind & Body

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Helen offers YOGA classes, TUESDAYS, THURSDAYS and FRIDAYS, at Waterville Valley Town Square.  

My Story

I discovered yoga in late 1990s.   I’ll never forget taking my first yoga class. It was Kundalini Yoga class.  The yoga teacher was dressed in all white and wore a turban.  We did a lot of breath work, chanting, meditation and sat a long time in a cross-legged position for the majority of the class.  I felt like I was going in to hyperventilation with the breath-of-fire, and my left leg and left hip ached the whole time.  My foot kept falling asleep.  I felt miserable.  I wanted exercise.

Looking back, I’m not sure how I kept trying, because it was a little bit of torture to experience the physical and mental pain when I tried to “meditate.”  But, people I admired swore by this mediation thing and I was determined to find out what this magical “peaceful mind” was all about.

I took a Kundalini Yoga class twice a week for about a year.  I gradually regained the sensation that I lost from my injury and that is where my yoga journey began.  If it weren’t for my injury in November 1995, I honestly don’t think I would feel as connected as I do today.  It has prompted me to investigate alternative therapies and it has opened me mentally.  I enrolled in an in-depth yoga teacher training at Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in 2011 and have been registered with Yoga Alliance since 2012.

Attending a wilderness first aid class last weekend brought me to write this. We went over fracture care, sprains, strains, wound care and wilderness critical care and the memories of what happened to me 21 years ago keep creeping up in my mind.

24 years ago I was in an accident.  On a drizzly morning on my way to work, I hit in back of someone’s car at an intersection.  The first accident was a fender bender and no one was hurt.  I got out of the car to see if any damages were done to any of the cars.  As I was standing between the front of my car and the other driver’s bumper, another car hit behind my car and my left leg was completely crushed between my thigh and just below the knee.   This also caused an open-femur fracture and I went through intensive surgery for eight hours.  Luckily my knee cap was not crushed but it was bruised severely and everything else in the knee was shattered.

Four weeks after surgery, I started therapy in a heated, therapeutic pool.  I could only get in and out of the water in a hydraulic chair lift.  I could not put any weight on my left leg; however, I was able to work out by swimming freestyle laps and worked with a physical therapist in the water.  If you have had a knee or hip replacement, gait retraining helps you relearn to stand up straight (the tendency is to lean toward your operated leg) and use both legs evenly. Gait retraining may begin in the pool, where the water’s buoyancy takes weight off the joint, makes it easier to stand up straight, and reduces the fear of falling.

From personal experience I believe that a personal yoga practice is as important as an alignment rehab regimen if you have been injured.  I have scar tissue in my left leg that still remains.  My alignment changed due to my left leg being shorter than my right leg.  When I don’t keep up with my yoga practice, my left sacroiliac ilium joint, lower lumbar spine and left shoulder feels tight and dull.  Although the fitness related activities that I’ve done over the years has enhanced my health, I still have various physical issues as a result of my accident 21 years ago.  I do not have a full range of motion in my left leg and am unable to do poses like hero (virasana) and bow pose (dhanurasana).  I had to modify the hero pose by putting blocks under my buttocks.

For a long time the healing slowed me down because I rejected where I am, therefore I pushed myself inappropriately in the past. Before I took up yoga, I was unable to sit in a cross-legged position but today I can. I’ve received yoga therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and personal training on a pilates reformer.  All these tools do promote structural alignment, but in particular, I recommend a personal yoga practice in conjunction with acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and bodywork therapy.

From what I’ve experienced, the relief from chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture treatments is only temporary. However, a personal yoga practice, can be a permanent fix to the injury.  The mind, body, and spirit changes over time, therefore, how we take care of ourselves should change too.  Yoga has helped me age more gracefully, maintaining strength, balance and openness.  A personalized yoga practice should have at its core this paradox of acceptance and change.  I get static with the same yoga over time and I find that it is helpful to go to a new teacher every now and then. I strongly recommend a private consultation with a teacher you respect—even if you are a teacher yourself—who can look at you with fresh eyes and make some recommendations for changing your personal practice.

I’m a very earth-element person, who is oriented toward transitions from one season to the next.  My rhythm sways, as if I’m moving with the rhythm of the earth.  The solstices and equinoxes that I attend regularly embodies the rhythm of transition, and these Native American ceremonies embrace that change because I tend to hold the past in the present moment.  Yoga has kept me grounded until the circle starts again the following season.  Embracing the earth element heals me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Yoga teacher training has shown me how to be involved in my own healing.  I’ve observed things in myself that I haven’t noticed before.  Typically, I am a person with a high energy level.  I give selflessly of my time and energy to others, frequently putting others’ needs before my own.  From an energetic expenditure perspective, the energy I have dramatically exceeds the energy returned.  This leaves my energetic body depleted over time until the physical body finally follows.  The stress causes indigestion and that has led me to conclude that major behavioral shifts must take place in me to reverse the flow of energy so a balance is achieved.  By practicing yoga that balance is achieved and my body’s ability to heal itself is enhanced.  If you do require some effort to measure your available energies, one’s personal yoga practice should bring in energy, not deplete energy by being overly stressful.  Understanding what’s happening inside you will help you heal and keep healthy.

The body is constantly adapting to its environment, experiencing an ever-changing chain of events. When one part of the body experiences a trauma, this complex set of interactions is altered once again, potentially leading to further injury and trauma in adjacent locations.

My tight left adductor muscle strongly affects ‘hip opening’ creating an imbalance.  Therefore sitting in a cross-legged position feels tight on my left knee. The discomfort is caused by a misalignment of my pelvis, tension in the large muscles of the hips and pelvis (which may cause the joint to jam or stiffen), or a strain (which is often due to looseness or hyper-mobility in the joints). My left sacroiliac joint is stiff and the other is hyper-mobile, creating an imbalance that has caused discomfort in my left side.  My pectineus muscle has been shortened due to my accident.  This also causes some external rotation at the hip and prevents my hip from opening fully as it is still adducting the thigh, tightening the head of the femur into the hip.

My left knee and hip have disrupted my normal walking gait by causing stiffness and restricting joint movement, thereby weakening certain muscles. A person’s usual pattern of standing, walking, or running may also invite joint problems if weakness occurs in key muscles and poor alignment.  Such bad habits throw off the gait. It may have taken many years of walking or running with an abnormal gait before knee joint and feet and hip injury occurs. Improper running leads to injury because it involves greater force with each stride.  Initially, the proper gait may feel odd; you will most likely need practice and continued instruction before it becomes comfortable. Yoga will strengthen muscles you may be trying to avoid using.

Although many people adopt the practice to ease stress and improve overall health, a growing number have specific medical aims and are following the recommendations of their clinicians.  According to a study in the journal Spine (Sept. 1, 2009), yoga therapy can reduce pain and functional impairment in people with chronic (lasting more than three months) low back pain. This condition is notoriously difficult to treat, and not surprisingly, one of the most commonly reported reasons for turning to alternative and complementary therapies. Yoga has shown promise in treating the condition, but not all studies have looked at the same form of yoga. The Spine study tested a form called Iyengar (pronounced eye-en-gar) yoga, which is based on the teachings of the eponymous nonagenarian B.K.S. Iyengar.

Most yoga taught and practiced in this country is hatha yoga, which combines three elements: classic poses (asanas), controlled breathing, and deep relaxation or meditation. Iyengar is a type of hatha yoga involving the use of props such as blankets, blocks, benches, and belts to help people perform the poses to the fullest extent possible even if they lack experience or have physical limitations. The emphasis is on precise physical alignment, with trained teachers adjusting everything from the position of the shoulders to the angle of the toes.  Recent research studies have confirmed the benefits of yoga.

The gentleness of Iyengar yoga makes it a good form of activity for those with physical limitations, including the disabled and people who are older or don’t exercise.

Current physical activity guidelines for older adults emphasize improving balance and flexibility in addition to strength and cardiovascular fitness. Taking a yoga class may help many people meet those guidelines. One study looked at the effects of a nine-week program of Iyengar yoga in 24 women between the ages of 59 and 76, none of whom had previous experience with yoga. They performed simple, classic Iyengar poses. At the end of the program, the women walked more quickly, with greater confidence, and had better balance and flexibility.

Spinal Injury

Many people suffering from a back injury experience sciatica.  According to PubMed, the National Institutes of Health’s online resource “Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve.  Sciatica is a symptom of another medical problem, not a medical condition on its own.”  I had a symptom of numbness in my left foot.  It felt like I had gel on the soles of my feet.  I took a B vitamin every day for the nervous system and it took three months for the numbness to go away.  I never had this before and I may never understand why I had this numbness in my feet.  My only guess is that I overdid it on my sciatica nerve from a yoga pose where my form wasn’t correct.  When there is pressure or injury to the nerve, it can be a bit confusing as to its source. Pain that radiates from your lumbar spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg is the hallmark of sciatica.  However,  sciatic pain will sweep more to the out-seam of the leg and travel down the side of the leg to the foot, or maybe only travel part way down the buttock and back leg.

Shoulder Injury

Another musculoskeletal concern I have had is a shoulder injury.  It took two years for me to get rid of a rotator cuff pain.  Like hamstring tears, rotator cuff injuries are easily re-injured.  That happened with me multiple of times and my healing was delayed.  It is acceptable to work through mild shoulder discomfort—and this may be necessary to increase range of motion—but any sharp pain, or an increase in pain after the practice, means you have gone too far.  I had rotator cuff pain, especially when I went swimming.  It would hurt when I did breaststroke or freestyle strokes.  However, swimming was the best therapy when I went through rehabilitation on my left leg.  The same is true with your yoga practice.  A gentle asana program to build shoulder muscle strength will gradually restore range of motion, improve alignment, and foster relaxation.

Since these injuries can make it difficult and painful to lift the hand over the head, one may need to avoid poses such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Full Arm Balance).  In more severe cases, students may have difficulty even bringing their arms parallel to the floor as they prepare to move into standing poses. Some poses can be modified, however. For example, a recommendation would be to do  Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) with the hands on the hips rather than stretched overhead.

Some students should avoid such poses as Chaturanga Dandasana (plank) entirely, and be very careful of those such as Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Reverse Namaste, in which many students poke the head of the humerus bone too far forward to be safe. Due to the weight bearing involved, Chaturanga (Four-Limbed Staff) is one of the most dangerous poses for the shoulder if the student has this common postural habit. For these students, repeated cycles of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) that includes full Chaturanga, especially when they are done quickly, is recommended.

As with many injuries, nature and time may take care of the problem—if you stop doing the action that hurt them in the first place and avoid contraindicated poses during their rehabilitation. Such students will also need a gentle asana program to build shoulder muscle strength, gradually restore range of motion, improve alignment, and foster relaxation.

Conclusion

My goal is to be a yoga teacher that gives instructions that are individualized, with adjustments made for age, experience, body type, physical condition, and medical problems.  I teach mixed styles such as Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, Interval, and restorative with props. I also offer private sessions for Thai Yoga Bodywork. I like to look at a person as a whole.  Each person is unique depending on the proportion of the earth, fire, air and space, – forces that shape us (Ayurveda).  For me, air and water are my main forces (I’m a Vata).  Others will be different.  I would encourage you to listen for the creeping things in body and mind and meditate on allowing emotional and physical discomforts to flow through.  With patience it will eventually dissipate.

Everyone’s river is different.  Make yours one that moves silently.  The river will expand to meet the sea.  The rapids are the past, flowing slowing in to expansion.  It works the same way in us.  What arise in the emotional body can be worked through by becoming aware of your breath.  You can work through irritation, impatience and anger in small ways.  Notice what is arising in you when you sit still.

Namaste

Accomplishments

Helen is a certified yoga teacher and also in Thai yoga bodywork.  She has studied under eclectic and internationally renowned teachers, such as Todd Norian with Ashaya Yoga, Tias Little with Prajna Yoga and Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage School in Montreal.

Winter 2018

I completed ‘SATYA I’ & ‘SATYA II’ (Sensory Awareness Training for Yoga Attunement) with Tias and Surya Little at Prajna Yoga, Santa Fe, NM. This is an in-depth study of SATYA movements and how to combines them with asana, breath and meditation.  I’m taught to guide students away from “doing” movement and toward sensing, receiving and “being” movement. As an adjunct to yoga practice, somatic awareness leads to embodied wisdom.  Prajna Yoga offers one of the most in-depth, comprehensive and transformational yoga teacher training programs available today.

Spring 2017

I completed the phenomenal 6-day course ‘Hands-On Adjustments and the Art of Sequencing’ with Tias and Surya Little at Prajna Yoga, Santa Fe, NM.  Practiced hands-on adjusting the poses using props to help modify poses: the wall, a block, blanket, strap, chair, wedge or bolster.  Also received a comprehensive curricula grounded in meditation, yoga, visual aids and discussion, dharma talks, pranayama and chanting.

Summer & Fall 2016

At the invitation of the Lotus Palm Institute of Thai Massage and Traditional Bodywork (located in Montreal),  I helped teach the course, “Assisted Yoga with Adjustments,” from 28 September to 2 October 2016.  While at the Institute, I completed all requirements for the Thai Yoga Essentials Certificate and also successfully completed the course “Thai Style Head Massage.”

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Spring 2016

I studied with with Todd Norian, founder of Ashaya Yoga®, April 15 – 17, 2016 at Lake Champlain Yoga & Wellness.  I attended the Yoga wellness weekend workshop training that consist of a blend of therapeutic alignment techniques, uplifting heart virtues, and the empowering teachings of Tantra philosophy.

I studied with Yogamotion Academy based out of Bozeman, MT, on March 5 – 13, 2016 in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.  I earned 40 hours of CEUs for yoga teachers by completing the “Workshop-Retreat Business Training for Yoga Teachers and Health and Wellness Educators.”  This training prepared me to  facilitate yoga retreats in Waterville Valley, NH, and beyond.  I plan to facilitate a retreat at TOSA Laguna Boutique Hotel & Spa,  Lake Atitlan, Guatemala in 2017.  Stay tuned for the Guatemala trip details later.

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Winter 2015

I returned from India with gratitude and love.  This trip was sponsored by Feathered Pipe Ranch, Helena, MT, one of the oldest centers for conscious living and yoga retreats in the country.  The tour was led by Baxter Bell, MD, RYT 500. We visited Delhi, Haridwar, the Ganges River, Rishikesh, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi, and Sarnath.  I heard noise like never before, saw filthy cities, and poverty that is unimaginable to many in the United States.  I also saw  an abundance of wealth and beauty.  There were communities of love and ceremonies of light and faith that touched my soul.  I am humbled.  

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Fall 2015
  • I completed ‘Thai Yoga Massage Level 2’, Lotus Palm School Certification, at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.  I learned to adopt massages to accommodate people of different sizes and flexibility, as well as people suffering from common ailments.
  • I attended Kirtan college, a weekend of intensive chanting  with David Newman (Durga Das) & Mira at Satchidananda Ashram (Yogaville).  We did lessons in the Bhaki Yoga tradition and how to lead Kirtan.
  • I attended ‘Up North Yoga Conference’ in Essex, NY on Lake Champlain.  A fabulous workshop presented by Justin Wolfer, Nixa DeBellis, Michael Fergot, Katie Wilson & Magda Janak – sponsored by Michelle Bartz Maron, Lake Champlain Yoga and Wellness.
Spring 2015
  • I attended an annual ‘Yoga in Paradise’ retreat with Suzanne Morgan, Xinalani Retreat Center, Banderas Bay, Mexico. A lot of relaxing yoga classes, workshops, journaling and meditation on the most beautiful beach.  I gave a few Thai Massages and received a few.  Xinalani Retreat Center
Winter 2015
  • Completed Thai Yoga Massage, Level I with Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage  followed by Assisted Yoga with Adjustments also by Lotus Palm.
  • Attended Tias Little’s Architecture of Asana training at Back Bay Studio in Boston, MA
Fall 2014
  • Attended the Kripalu’s Annual Teachers Conference on Modern Yoga Therapy.
  • Attended ‘Up North Yoga Conference’ in Essex, NY on Lake Champlain.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Khalil Gibran

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Yoga Schedule for June 2019

TUESDAYS, Slow Flow with Helen, 9:00-10:15, Town Square
THURSDAYS, Open Levels with Helen, 2:00-3:15, Town Square
FRIDAYS, Slow Flow with Helen, 9:00-10:15, Town Square
SUNDAYS, Open Levels with Helen, 9:00-10:15, WMAC
 
All group classes at Town Square and WMAC are $15 per class. Adult Fitness passes accepted at either location. Freedom pass holders get $2 off. 

Call Helen for a Theraputic Thai Yoga appointment or Private Yoga Class – 603-960-1470

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About the Instructor

Testimonials on yoga classes here

Helen is a professionally trained and certified yoga teacher, Thai Yoga Massage practitioner, and Pilates mat trainer.  She has taught yoga for seven years and studied the practice in the US and internationally in India, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and Canada. Since she retired from the computer software development field five years ago and moved to Waterville Valley, Helen has dedicated herself to improving her yoga practice and helping others to enjoy the mental and physical benefits deeply imbedded in the practice. Helen has taught at several venues, and currently teaches at the Waterville Valley Athletic Club and at Waterville Valley Town Square Yoga, which she established two years ago.  She also conducts private lessons.  Helen is certified to teach yoga through the Yoga Alliance and Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in Arlington, VA.  Helen also is certified as a Thai Yoga Massage practitioner through Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage School of Montreal, Canada.

Helen completed five classes at Kripalu.  Thai Yoga Massage, Level I & II with Lotus Palm Thai Yoga Massage  followed by Assisted Yoga with Adjustments also by Lotus Palm.  She attended Kripalu’s annual teachers conference, ‘The Power of Yoga Therapy.’  Other training at Kripalu is ‘Yoga Adjustments, Guiding  Practice for Each Unique Student’ with Mark Stephens.

Helen  completed the 200 hour in-depth yoga teacher training through Sun & Moon Yoga Studio, Arlington, VA in 2012.  She is currently registered with Yoga Alliance and has been practicing yoga since 1996.  She also completed Power Pilates Beginner Mat Training, and received an Assessment-Based Certificate, awarded June 2013.

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