Black Lives Matter | The Yoga of Action

I may not have the exact right words to say, but I am compelled to address the sadness and outrage reverberating through our communities and the tremendous injustices in our society that oppress and devalue people of color. I don’t know about you, but I am reeling from the events of the past weeks. And I’m not talking about coronavirus. I am referring to the events leading to the loss of the lives of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so very many others who have died as a result of police violence and racial injustice.

Without addressing the brutality that is being experienced, I cannot ethically hold the space of the teacher, guiding others to breathe while throughout the country people of color are crying out “I CAN’T BREATHE”.

This morning I received an email from Shannon Roche, the CEO and President of Yoga Alliance containing the following:

“Breath. We who practice and teach yoga understand breath, in a deep and intimate way. We know that breath is life-giving, that it is life-changing, and that it is shared, equally, among every living being on this earth. We know exactly what George Floyd’s last words, which echoed those of Eric Garner nearly six years before—“I can’t breathe”—meant, and exactly what was taken from him.”

As the past days and weeks have shone a spotlight on the inequities in our society, from the impact of the coronavirus on people of color to the social injustice resulting in the loss of lives, I have been percolating in a sea of intense emotions–anger, frustration, hopelessness, and incredible sadness. Read More »

21 Days to Abundant Joy

Every summer for many years, alleyCat Yoga practitioners have embarked upon an early morning ritual of practice at sunrise (6:00 – 7:15 a.m.) for 21 days straight. And this year anyone from around the world can take the class LIVE ONLINE over Zoom. Why on earth would someone do that, you might ask? Answer: Because it could change your entire life. 

No joke. After 21 days of getting up and practicing yoga before you start your day, I’m convinced that you will experience one or all of the following benefits: You will feel like a new person. You will have more energy. You will be more confident. You will have better health. You will have more clarity and insight into how you live your life. You will be more loving toward yourself and others. You will be stronger and more flexible in your mind and body. You will love the morning.

This year the 21 Day Sunrise Yoga Adventure will be structured around the first and second steps of the yogic eight-fold path—the Yamas and the Niyamas. These are the ten ethical practices from the yoga sutra that help you live your life with more grace and kindness on and off the mat. Read More »

In Memory of Kathryn Sienna (1963–2020)

Kathryn Sienna passed away on April 3, 2020, in her 57th year. She was born July 27, 1963 in St. Louis, Missouri; the daughter of Aloysius V. and Virginia Lee “Ginny” (Heher) Grieshaber, the fifth of five children born of this union; the sister of Mark, Mary, David, and Matthew; the mother of Ely Kale Powell. She was preceded in death by her mother and her brother David.

She grew up in South St. Louis County, Missouri in a large Catholic family. Her father (originally from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri) was a dentist and her mother (originally from the City of St. Louis, Missouri) a homemaker. She was known in her family as “Katy.”

She was a 1981 graduate of Lindbergh High School in South St. Louis County. She attended College of the Atlantic — an innovative and unorthodox liberal arts college dedicated to the study and practice of human ecology — located on an island, in the middle of a national park, along the ocean, near Bar Harbor, Maine. She later went west to California, first to massage school in the late-1980s, then to yoga teacher training in the late-1990s. Upon completing her training in 1998 at The Yoga College of India in Los Angeles, she became a nationally certified yoga teacher. 

Read More »

Step by Step: Gradual Reopening Plan

I want to share with you our current plans for slowly phasing in “IN-STUDIO” classes. As I have stated before, the path forward will take place with careful planning and great attention to detail for the well-being of all.

The City of Columbia, with direction from the Boone County Health Department, has released a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan. Under this guidance, a slow and careful plan for reopening has been clearly laid out for both the community and businesses. I fully support the prudence of this plan for a gradual reopening while data is continuously gather and analyzed.

The City of Columbia entered Phase 2: Slow Reopen on May 4. This phase is organized into 4 Steps. and the city is in Step 1 through May 31. The next announcement from the BCHD about moving forward to Step 2 is expected the week of May 25.

When Boone County moves to Step 2 of the city’s Slow Reopen Phase, the studio will gradually reopen. This will take place no sooner than June 1. I will set a date once the official order has been announced.

I have developed a Reopening Plan, following the guidelines set by the BCHD and Yoga Alliance. When the studio reopens, expect clear signage to promote social distancing and new guidelines for safe practice. Here is what you need to know about our Reopening Plan:

  1. We will reopen GRADUALLY, with some classes LIVE ONLINE and some Classes IN-STUDIO.
  2. IN-STUDIO classes will be limited to a MAXIMUM of 11 students, less than 25% of our occupancy requirement
  3. Social Distancing will be observed at all times: on arrival, check-in, during practice and when leaving the studio.
  4. Practice space will be clearly marked to keep students 6 feet apart
  5. All sign-in and payments will be non-contact
  6. Students will bring their own mat and props
  7. As we reopen, one to two IN-STUDIO classes will be offered per day, limiting the maximum number of people in the studio to 24 people per 24 hour period.

Here are answers to some FAQ’s I have received:

  • 21 Day Sunrise Yoga will take place LIVE ONLINE only
  • Specific classes will be either LIVE ONLINE or IN-STUDIO, we cannot do both at once
  • Some classes will continue LIVE ONLINE through June and July as indicated by social distancing guidelines.
  • Upon consultation with the BCHD, masks are not required during yoga practice as social distancing is followed and the maximum group size is small.
  • Students will be asked to attend only when they and those in their household are fever free and symptom free.

We are entering a time when anxiety is high and balance is tenuous. Though we are all navigating this crisis together, our collective experience and our individual experience may differ. Fears, judgement, anger and paranoia flourish as we lose the foundational rhythms that guide us. Through practice, our intention is to turn from fear to equanimity, from judgement to compassion and from anger to allowing. As we navigate change yet again, I ask that you seek on a daily basis whether IN STUDIO or LIVE ONLINE practices best allow you to feel nurtured, connected and supported.

When dealing with difficulty I call upon the energy of Ganesh, the deity that governs the root chakra, The root chakra is the foundation of our energy body, which is connected to security, safety and survival. Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha is a chant for transformation, grounding and removing obstacles.

As we take small and difficult steps forward I am sustained by the love that binds our yoga community together and the gift of awareness and clarity. I look forward to the day that we look back on this difficult time, flourishing in the practice that sustained us through the most difficult of days.

Jai Bhagwan,

Safe and Sacred Space–Reopening Update

At alleyCat Yoga our intention is to create a safe and sacred space so that the benefits of the practices of yoga can be fully realized by all.
~Ken McRae

I hope all is well with you. I want to fill you in about what is happening at the studio as the community around us begins to stir and contemplate reopening. Personally I have had some fear about this transition as I am faced with making difficult decisions in the midst of uncertainty.

After considerable reflection and information gathering I find solace in the original mission of the studio to hold both safe and sacred space. At this time that space is created in our Live Online classes and it feels right and ethical for that to continue for now.

In order to maintain safety, alleyCat will NOT resume In-studio classes when the Stay at Home Order ends on May 4. We will continue LIVE ONLINE classes through May 15 and most likely through the entire month of May.

Read More »