Sunday, March 23

Rich Logan Workshops | Heading Om | Peoria, IL

LOCATION: Heading Om | Peoria, IL 
COST: Part 1 $20, Part 2 $35, Part 3 $15
STUDIO: Love this studio—the sturdiness of this old brick building, the home-like warmth of the interior, the friendliness of those who work there. All around a great experience.
Foundations of Mindful Vinyasa, 2-3:30pm
This is a wonderful opportunity to experience mindful vinyasa yoga from a seasoned instructor, Rich Logan. One of Rich's goals in teaching yoga is to empower his students, "I try to give people something they can do for themselves—create awareness in their bodies. I teach as best I can to the level of the student. All my classes incorporate a theme: spiritual, mental, or physical. I encourage students to do their own deeper work, i.e. emotional energetic, in the end, I want you to find out what works best for you but be open to the suggestions that come your way." This is an all-levels class for students with some vinyasa yoga experience. 
Adjustments & Anatomy Clinic for Teachers, 4-6pm
In this teacher clinic we will discuss a different pose type and the practical application of how to bring better alignment to our students through adjustments. From the opening meditation to the final resting moment we will explore a myriad of ways to be present with our students with mindful touch. We will look at anatomical concepts as they relate to honing our touch skills. Whether you are a new teacher or a seasoned pro, there will be something for everyone.
Akoustikirtan: Live Music & Chanting, 7-8:30pm
Accompanied by his guitar, female vocalists, harp, and more... Rich will lead us through an evening of call and response chanting with his traveling music ensemble. This spring session Kirtan will have space in the back for dancing, and floor/chair seating. The creatives at OM are adorning the space with new art and fresh perspective! A different combination of musicians with Rich brings us new experiences at OM. Songs/chants paired with explanations of verses/songs. An inspired and uplifting way to bring in the Spring among friends and community.
INSTRUCTOR: Rich Logan has traveled the world studying and teaching massage therapy and Yoga. He has been on faculty at the Chicago School of Massage therapy and The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. He teaches yoga anatomy for several teacher trainings in Chicagoland as well as workshops in the surrounding area. Rich has also been a guest speaker on Western massage techniques at the Auyurvedic College in Mysore, India. He has also taught adjustment and anatomy oriented yoga courses for yoga teachers in Hamburg, Germany. He has presented at Wanderlust Chicago, teaching well over a thousand students in Grant Park. He was also a featured yoga presenter at Bhakti fest Midwest in Madison, WI.  He also has been performing with Kirtan groups in Chicago since 2002 as a guitarist and fronts his own group with a revolving band of world-class musicians called Akoustikirtan.  A serious student of Yoga since 1998, teaching since 2001 and a meditation practitioner since 1978, Rich incorporates his knowledge of anatomy and physiology with a unique understanding of spirituality in the modern world. Rich has studied at the prestigious Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Madras, India with TKV Desikachar among others presiding, The Atma Vikasa in Mysore with Yogacharya V. Venkatesha and wife Acharye Hema, The Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Center near Dharamsala with Sharat Arora.  Rich’s significant teachers have been, Kim Schwartz, Tias Little, Aadil Palkhivala, Gabriel Halpern and Ana Forrest. Rich has also assisted Tias Little in workshops as well as his Esalen retreat in '08. He continues to study at The Yoga Circle under the tutelage of the enigmatic and brilliant Gabriel Halpern in the Iyengar tradition.  Rich has an eclectic teaching style focusing on the seeming basics to allow for a deeper practice by sitting in some poses for extended periods and moving through other postures smoothly with deliberation attention on placing ourselves in the pose as opposed to habitual patterns and gravity running the show.  A mindful practice is focused on, bringing us to the edge of ‘experience’ to ‘witness’ the moment unfold and realize it is us who is the unfolding.
CONTACT: Heading Om

These workshops were a surprise as far as my dear friend + first yoga instructor, Hayli, said, "I'm signing you up... you have to go with us." Heart her. So at noon I headed to her house to meet up with another dear friend, Jodi, and a new friend, Lyndsey. Me and three yoga instructors were going to Peoria to take a vinyasa class, some teacher training (yeah, I infiltrated the system!), and my first-time kirtan experience. I'm gonna need some coffee...

Since I didn't actually set myself up with this class, I can only tell you what Jodi said about communication with Heading Om and setting up the workshop—which was glowing reviews on how tentative Tammy was to talking us through the day, making sure we took the right directions, and even offering up a place to stay that night if we didn't want to drive back. Upon meeting Tammy myself, yep, she's awesome—and overflowing with kindness (thank you SO much, Tammy!).

Foundations of Mindful Vinyasa, 2-3:30pm
Our vinyasa class started with Rich showing us the human skeleton and explaining the pelvis and how things move around with the hip, tailbone, and muscle structure. Then back to our mats, he started talking us through a seated meditation, a few Oms (which I like how he instructed us to om... inhale, and then just let the om come out, don't force it—which created a sweet way to enter into the sound), and on to vinyasa focus. Rich really slowed down the practice, completely surrounding it around pelvic floor—whether it was the shifting of the tailbone or the hips or awareness of mula bandha (a posture where the body from the anus to the navel is contracted and lifted up and towards the spine). We did a lot of work with a block between our legs—I've done this before, and it never ceases to amaze me how much you can understand the shifts of your posture when you have the block held between your thighs. Sounds funny, but it's true. When you place the block there and shift your tailbone down or pull your belly up and in... that blocks shifts. So when someone tells you how to shift the block, you ultimately are learning how to shift your pelvic floor.
We did this, working our way through vinyasa—pausing at powerful poses to really utilize the block being there. It was great to challenge myself to hold these poses while focusing in on my alignment—I was worried, being next to all these yoga instructors that I would stick out like a sore thumb... and you know what, maybe I did, but I was too busy to worry about it.

Two other poses we did that stayed with all of us was a hip + shoulder opener using our blocks. We stacked our shins in a seated position, but then stretch ourselves out over the blocks which kept us up a little bit higher, allowing us to open up the shoulders some. This didn't work with my shoulders on the first side, but on the second side I found something that felt good. In the image below you can see how the legs are stacked, but instead of reaching out hands out to the floor, we used our blocks. And... once our hips opened up a little more—we would reach to the left and the right, and then cross our arms to the opposite blocks... this is where the shoulder blades just wrapped around and opened up. Felt amazing.
The second pose was happy baby—this time, also with the blocks. Before you would go into the pose you would place the blocks on either side of your waist (not your hips), because when you go into the pose your thighs would rest on the blocks. It allowed my body to relax even more into the pose, since my thighs could rest on the blocks, my groin muscles stopped freaking out to protect me and I just melted into the pose. Pretty fantastic. Below I mocked up the image with an imaginary purple block :)
Adjustments & Anatomy Clinic for Teachers, 4-6pm
So... holy crap, I just signed up for a teacher training clinic, and I'm not a teacher. I'm not even close... surrounded by teachers... really good teachers... and me. I'm one part terrified and one part excited to peak behind the yoga curtain!

I kid you not—the entire time was spent in savasana. And I can't believe how much I learned—about myself, about the body, and about the beautiful energy our instructors put into our classes with us. Seriously, go hug your yoga instructor after you read this. They're even more amazing than you already know! So... how do you spend two hours in savasana? AND learn something? Here's how.
The first part was spent with a volunteer and Rich. He had the volunteer lie down into savasana. He told us what to look for—is one arm or leg closer to the midline? Does the foot rotate out more on one side? Where do the knuckles on the hand touch the floor? How does the hip bones look? Rib cage? Shoulders? Where is their chin positioned? And... what could all of those bits of info mean? AWESOME! That's just looking at the student. Ha!

Then he picked up the volunteer's feet while he was still close to the ground. He showed us how to elongate the leg while also "bending" the bone through an arching motion. Meanwhile, how are you sitting, are you comfortable? How are you working with your breath and what energy are you giving the student? Then he stands up, windshield wipers the legs while they're angled at about 45°—how does each leg resist or not? Then, how can you leverage your body weight and positioning to pull the legs and elongate the ankles... knees... thighs... lower back. Even the act of putting the legs back down was a beautiful dance of balancing the volunteer's foot on his own and slowly lowering it with his leg—allowing Rich's back to be protected while also watching where you place each foot. Does their back seem a little too arched? Pick up the legs to about 90° — let their lower back stretch out a little bit more — lower those feet back down in a graceful little balance again.

Next he focused in on the hips—finding the hip bone with each of his thumbs. He showed us how to move the muscle around for better alignment and then put his full weight into the thigh muscle, grounding the femurs (at which point, if you like, you can go into crow pose—what?!). Holding it down for 3-5 breaths, or longer. Letting the volunteer's exhales guide your pressure to aid in melting them into the pose. And he releases with just as much attention to breath and energy as he went into it. So nurturing.

We move up to the shoulders and arms. Wrapping the muscle and skin around so that it rotates the arms out just a little bit more. Then he put his hands under the volunteer to pull the shoulder blades down (you've probably had this one done to you + can relate), but to see how much it adjusts people is pretty incredible. Once the shoulder blades were in a nice place, the arms evenly rotated out, he brought the muscles up around the ribs and then (this blew me away when it was done to me) he leaned on the volunteer's ribs. This gently forced the volunteer to breath in other parts of their body—back into their kidneys and down into the belly. With each exhale of the volunteer, Rich would hold that compression while they inhaled. And then, this is the cool part, when he slowly released the ribs... it was like breathing a deep breath for the first time. Pretty powerful.

Then he took himself to the head of the volunteer—sat down comfortably, suggesting a block or blanket to keep the instructor comfortable through all of this. He found some deep muscle spots to push his thumbs into shoulder traps—instructing location, how to feel around for the tense spot, and then to just lean in and hold. He actually did this to me during the vinyasa practice, it hurt so good. Then he placed his hands under the head, instructing the placement of finger tips, how to apply pressure and where. How it changed the angle of the chin, and what to look for in the student. He shared the spot (which I, um, call the bottle opener... that ledge at the base of your skull, lol) where if you apply pressure with the finger tips it helps relieve migraines. But you've also loosened up the neck leading up to that, so I think that's involved too. Then he started to bring the volunteer out of it slowly, first placing his thumbs at the volunteer's third eye—just holding, connecting, sharing energy. Next the thumbs went to the top of the head—Rich said this was a great way to connect your heart's energy with the student's.

He instructed the volunteer to slowly come back to awareness. Bending each leg, placing the feet on the ground, bringing the knees into one another. With ease, the volunteer then should roll onto their right side. Rich then placed his hand on the volunteer's back, connecting once again with the heart from the back. This also creates a safe space for the volunteer to come out of the blissful savasana.

Pretty delicious, right? Up next, we partner up and repeat all of this on one another. CRAP! OK, Hayli, will you go first so I can learn from you? These are things she's done to me already in yoga classes or through her massages. Which was one part great for me to learn from and one part scary, knowing I'd be doing this to her. Eeks! But, before you know it, I'm so enjoying myself I forgot to pay attention and just floated into my adjustments. When I was done, we chatted about where I was holding tension (confirming stuff we already knew) and where it could have been more comfortable for me... I have incredibly sensitive skin on my outer ankles, so when my legs are pulled on it feels great for my alignment—but pinching on my ankles.

Uh oh... up next, I get to do this for the first time in my life to my yoga instructor, my massage therapist, to my dear friend. I knew I was in a safe space with Hayli, so I just decided to go for it and focus in on my energy. How could I nurture Hayli the best way possible, breath into the adjustments, and let my heart just warm with love for my friend. It was incredible. The amount of heat my body created was intense—this was work! Watching how I adjusted her actually worked—was so satisfying. I checked in regularly with her to be sure she was comfortable and I wasn't torturing her—but she was so relaxed I knew I must be doing something right. The scariest part for me was actually working on her neck. Was I on the right vertebrae? Was I pulling on her hair? Was I pressing too hard? I would just go back into focusing on my breathing and Hayli's breathing too. Tapping into what I knew felt good on me.

When we chatted about her experience, I was relieved to find out she was shocked I had never done that before. I was grateful to explain what I learned about her body for the first time—returning the favor of comfort and nurturing after years of what she's done for me. It was amazing.

At this point—two hours and come and gone. Rich showed us how everything we had just learned in that savasana we could now apply to all poses—using trikonasana (triangle pose) on a volunteer as an example. Incredible!

Rich Logan is an amazing instructor—I felt so lucky to be experiencing this day. To learn so much from his wisdom and also enjoy his sense of humor reminding us all to not take this all so seriously. To enjoy our awareness and curiosity. So grateful. So very grateful. 

Akoustikirtan: Live Music & Chanting, 7-8:30pm
My first kirtan... a call and response chanting. Here we discover than Rich is also an incredible guitarist and singer. With his band of vocalists he regularly travels with, and three more who have only played with him once before or not at all—beautiful music was played.

Rich would start by teaching us the sanskrit pronunciations (he had a nice big projection for all to see—which was good, because the room was cozy and dark and reading a piece of paper would have been impossible without ruining the ambiance). Then they'd start playing, he'd sing and the vocalists with microphones would do the response so we could sing with them. Eventually the song would turn into the rolling jam band with everyone singing and people dancing or swaying and the room just bursting with music. Rich was amazing at bringing us back in to finish off the song—where we'd all sit in silence to meditate on the moment. This was pretty funny—the first time this happened Rich whispered, "For the first timers... this is where we all pretend to meditate. So if you just pretend like you're meditating... close your eyes and sit completely still... pretending like you're going in to yourself... pretend you're meditating... before you know it... you won't be pretending anymore..." Ha!

We then did this with maybe 4-5 more songs? I'm not sure. By the end of the first song I was already ready to go home. I was tired. I was hungry. I didn't know we were going to be here this late. I didn't want to sit on a tiny cushion singing and appearing to be taken away by the music. I wasn't. Others were, definitely, so I appreciated that it worked for them... I was raised playing music and singing, you would think this would actually be the perfect form of meditation for me. But, no, I like structure to my music. I like to be playing an instrument (maybe this would be transforming for me if I had bass in my hand or something)... and I don't like songs that go on for a really long time. I don't like not being able to hear myself because others were singing so loud. And though others were taken away by the moment, it then suddenly felt like it was their show... It's not their show! And then I realized I was being challenged with judgement once again—so grateful I have started to recognize this while still in the moment. How can I appreciate and enjoy others way of experiencing something while still enjoying it myself in a completely different way? How can I not feel like I don't fit in, when in reality there is nothing to be fitting into? I know I'll be challenged by my insecurities again in the future—and that's really some of the biggest benefits of trying something new. In this case, though, I will be grateful I tried kirtan and probably not do it again. It's like hot yoga to me... it's just not for me. Great for so many others, but not for me. And you know what, that's ok.

What an amazing Saturday—experiencing so much, learning and navigating the new with amazing women. All under the guide of Rich Logan, a gentle and wise and funny leader. In a comforting and nurturing space. Glorious. Thank you everyone—thank you thank you thank you!

Also, I do have to mention, Tammy recommended we go to One World Cafe for dinner and it was SOOOOO good with options for all tastes. I had a thai noodle salad (substituting the chicken with some of the best tofu I've ever had) to continue my healthy day and a side of fries because I was effing hungry and was about to eat the table.  :)

cozy, cozy space — this is the check-in area (I forgot pics of the kitchen + bathrooms + well, everything)
gorgeous props — handmade eye pillows + cases, handmade bolster covers
my girls setting up
a picture with Rich
a giggling Rich, being busted out for smiling with a mouthful of cliff bar :)
Jodi + Lyndsey took advantage of the downtime with acroyoga
super talented kirtan musicians
my view beyond our table at One World Cafe — fitting

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