Spotlight On… Rohana Yoga & Wellness with Owner Be Embley-Reynolds

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What is Rohana Yoga & Wellness?

Rohana is a wellness center that incorporates traditional yoga, bodywork, acupuncture, ayurvedic healing, and other modalities. Through our offerings, you can achieve relief from pain, find improved physical functioning, a balanced mind, and a heightened sense of body awareness, vitality, and well-being.

We have a wide variety of highly trained teachers sharing a traditional approach. Our restorative healing classes are very accessible to people of all levels of ability and experience. Some of our yoga teachers offer private sessions. We also have practitioners offering bodywork, massage, doTerra aromatherapy, AromaTouch massage, cranial sacral work, Reiki, reflexology, acupuncture, Chinese massage, and other types of Chinese bodywork. Ayurvedic healing services are also available.

People feel really comfortable in the space and with the teachers, no matter where they are in their practice. Our yoga studio focuses on yoga as a whole, so it’s not just the physical aspect. Meditation is also a big part of it. You just come as you are. People feel welcome and good, and it’s not intimidating.

When and how did Rohana start?

Rohana began in May, 2017 with the intention of creating a wellness center with pro-active, restorative and preventive practices to help people with their health issues, and to live well and help avoid health issues. We offered yoga and massage to start, and now have thirteen teachers and practitioners offering a full spectrum of yoga classes and wellness services.

What is your role in Rohana?

I facilitate the business end, and work with our teachers and practitioners to support them in providing the services we have.

I’m honored and humbled to work with the women who make Rohana what it is–the training they have and the energy and love they have that goes into their teaching and treatments is pretty incredible. I’m really grateful to be involved in something that helps people heal and address chronic issues in a more natural way, or find more peace in their life. It’s a big deal to me to be a part of Rohana because our intention was to create a healing space. In fact, the name Rohana was chosen because it roughly translates to healing in Sanskrit.

I began practicing yoga regularly in 2016, and completed my 200-hour RYT yoga teaching training this past April. It brought lots of benefits to my personal practice and knowledge of yoga as a whole. I look forward to continuing to develop by learning more from the very well-trained teachers we have here to further prepare me to teach yoga classes in the future.

So who comes to Rohana & why?

We have such a wide variety of students. Many are just beginning their practice. Because we have a lot of different teachers, people can find what they’re looking for in a class. Friends have told them they’re feeling better, and having a good time, and they continue coming because they connect with the teachers and practitioners.

The women who make up Rohana are genuine in their approach, and communicate and treat people with love in a genuine space of wanting to help people find their center on the mat, or relief from pain. From our wide variety of offerings, people find some healing, centering, and peace in our space.

We’re also blessed to overlook Marquette’s ore dock and lower harbor. The studio has a lot of windows, and will get the breeze off the lake. It’s a beautiful space to practice in—the trees and Rosewood Walkway make it feel like you’re in a treehouse. And overlooking the lake gives an incredible view to enjoy while you’re practicing yoga or receiving a treatment.

What would you most like people to understand about Rohana?

We want to help people try something new or address issues in a different way. It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to a more holistic approach to self-care—everything we offer is very accessible and there are a lot of people who are happy to explain or introduce anything the person may be new to or have question about. We offer a two-week unlimited membership for $20 so new yoga students can try several classes and different teachers. Our Restorative Yoga & Slow Flow Yoga classes are especially good starting places for many people.

What are the newest developments at Rohana?

We’ve brought in a very highly trained acupuncturist this year–Rachel DeLuca. Her practice also includes Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion (an herb often used in combination with acupuncture), and cupping (special cups used on the skin to create suction, helping to relieve muscle tension, move congested phlegm, detox one’s system, etc.).

Rachel is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine recognized by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), and has also completed a four-month residency in Qi Gong & therapeutic Tai Chi. She’ll be teaching four-week series of classes for each season. “Staying Healthy with the Season According to Chinese Medicine,” incorporates Chinese medicine, some tai chi, chi gong, yoga poses, and suggestions on how to live well in each season. The first series begins September 21st.

Rachel will describe more about the series at a tea ceremony she’s conducting on Aug. 31 in which she’ll share knowledge learned on a trip to China on loose leaf tea and its health benefits.

What’s next for Rohana?

We intend to continue to expand our wellness offerings, and to partner with other like-minded businesses in the community. For example, we’ve held classes at the Marquette Food Co-op the last two winters because it may be less intimidating for some people to drop into a class there for the first time than at the yoga studio.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved

Bodies in Motion: Sweet Wisdom in Fawn Pose by Crystal Cooper

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The shifting of the seasons whispers the secret of change. However alchemizing these times may be, empowering tools abound. Despite tumultuous feelings that may be prompted by external entities within, our own force for change exists. Slowing down, creating space, and prioritizing energy for self-care are sustaining ways to positively take control. Seeking alternatives to stressful reaction in these times of flux, we can shift our focus to being kind, gentle, and sweet with ourselves and others. We can seek further alternative solutions by looking to nature and healing traditions for guidance and wisdom. One who manifests the medicine of gentle kindness is the fawn. To embody these virtues, we can look to yoga.

Fawn pose is an informal derivative of deer pose. Intuitively seeming more inward and sweetly nurturing in nature, fawn pose involves a gentle forward fold over bent legs. It welcomes a stretch of the hips, and a moment of supported rest.

Imagined as a spring creature, the symbolism of fawn speaks to the promise of new beginnings. With their delicate, growing legs, the essence of patience and tender determination can be gleaned. Looking at the world with big, innocent eyes, the fawn instills peace through its perspective. We can take these lessons into our yoga practice to find even more inspiration.

Fawn pose is a seated, grounding position that provides a supported and connected feeling to earth. It is said that our life of emotions is stored in the hips, and being at the center of our body, it is easy to feel the many tensions we may hold there. Hip opening poses offer the opportunity to breathe fresh air and circulation into the deep parts of us. Physically, the stretching can feel intense, and past emotional pains can rise to the surface.  Included in the pose is a twist, known for increasing circulation, gently cleansing organs, and aligning the spine. Moving into autumn, when energy flow can become stagnant in the body, twists are ideal for stimulating the kidneys to keep systems vital. A relaxing and comforting forward fold is the final placement in fawn pose, allowing a moment of calm and stillness.

An initial step in beginning a yoga practice is to connect breath and body while allowing silence. It is wise to begin with a moving, energizing sequence such as sun salutations for strengthening and to prepare the body for flexibility. Moving into a cooler season, it is even more important to warm up before getting into stretching poses. However, because it is such a gentle pose, it would not be harmful to begin with fawn. To allow more ease for stiff or inflexible areas, sitting on a pillow or folded towel can make seated positions more accessible.

By sitting on the ground, the connection between the earth and the sitz bones of the buttocks is realized. One can almost press against the ground, allowing the spine to be tall, and with a big inhale, lift through the crown of the head.

Letting the knees fall out to the sides, the bottoms of the feet are brought together. With the left leg remaining in this position, the right is rotated, still bent, in the opposite direction so that the right foot is outward. The left foot rests on the top of the right leg. The right hand is placed on the right foot and the left is placed on the left knee.

Using the hands to press, the torso of the body is gently twisted to face straight over the right leg. A deep inhale and exhale here opens and relaxes the shoulders while the top of the head remains tall.  Remaining here, the spectrum of ease or difficulty present in the stretch may be observed. With another big inhale, growing even taller through the spine, and bending at the hips to protect the low back, one comes into a forward fold toward the right leg. The true limits of flexibility must be respected here, but also met to encourage growth.

While in the pose, breath and positive change is invited into those deep, dark emotions that may have been held in place here. Lightness is invoked. It is time to be easier on ourselves.  Breathing into the places being stretched, from the legs, hips, kidneys, up the spine, and into the chest through the shoulders, rejuvenation is allowed. Playing with the lightness to be found in this pose, and with the face perhaps leaning close to the foot—kiss (or blow one to) your toes!  Bless your path: how far you’ve come, all the places you’ll go. The forehead may be rested upon the groin, or each cheek feeling a kiss from the earth. Once the pose has been fully enjoyed on this side, the legs are switched to the other side, mirroring the placements.

In connecting with fawn pose, one may instill grace in the approaching autumnal period of preparation and rest. By including it in your yoga practice, the peace and lessons gleaned may synergize throughout life. With new or unknown endeavors, it is all right to be cautious and go slow.  But as the fawn would also teach, it is important to be curious and playful! Experiment within the pose to find new opening: while still sitting straight, you can bend side-to-side, lift the arms and bend, let the head lean to each side for opening through the neck, lift the pelvis up to stretch the front thighs, or go into a related pose, such as fire log or pigeon. Lighten up, be gentle, and harbor a delicate communion with the surrounding beauty that is.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. Her communion with the northwoods deepened upon beginning yoga in 2013. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

Bodies in Motion: Direct Connection—Yoga in Nature, Crystal Cooper

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Breathe in. You are here, in this body, at this time. You are aware of and immersed in your surroundings. Perhaps you’ve arrived stressed, scared, weak, or in need. A peaceful simplicity welcomes you. Breathe out. Why not unplug, unwind, reset, recharge? Where? The porch, the beach, the woods, the mountains. All viable options are yours for the indulging.

This time you choose to flee to the wilds, submerging yourself into the elements. It feels sneaky, thrilling, fearless, or empowering. The mind is silent and the senses vital here. Now you can feel with the subtle, deeper parts of yourself. It is quiet in a different way. The present sounds are more alive. The surrounding scents invite you to remember to smell them. You realize you are holding the tensions of the day in your body, and that you can release them. Observing other living beings, you realize the grass and bird hold nothing but what is essential.

You move into downward-facing dog pose, pressing your hands and feet into the wood, grass, soil, or rock. Breathing in, you fill to your capacity, then exhale. The earth is pressing back, supporting you. Your body is being rejuvenated—the stresses and pressures of the day and your life being gently released or powerfully pushed out. Fully released and truly connected to this space, you receive a glimpse of understanding that you are indeed one with all.

. . .

We make choices every day, every moment. Time and energy are utilized for all that life requires and offers. How mindfully and intentionally are these resources prioritized? Consider the idea of taking back our time and energy from those entities that abduct it, deviation for the greatest good. What a wily, wholesome way to protest the perpetual adversity faced, rallying for our inherent life force.

Cleansing and growing the connection to our vitality, we can practice yoga outside, additionally healing the human connection to earth. This is good work. This is an individual grassroots movement to be built upon in times to come. This foundation gratifies immediately and long-term, fortifying personal resilience. Immersed in a natural yogic practice, one does not require proof or over-thinking—the facts of goodness and righteousness are felt, known.

Yoga means union, the harmony of awareness and intention, body and mind, soul and earth.

Physically, yoga can allow vast synergistic opportunities—oxygenating tissues, lubricating joints, and restoring and strengthening subtle, vital connections throughout the body. A yoga practice begins with the breath and mental presence. No matter the origin of one’s practice, the purpose is an honest, focused communion. This can begin in the living room with a book or Youtube video, in a studio on the mat, or simply with gravity, the earth, and your body.

Once an understanding of the poses exists, like words, they are sequentially placed to make an intentional sentence. Each sentence, or stream of poses, is mindfully carried out to compose a paragraph, eventually telling the story of your yoga practice. Within this story line exist possibilities to get curious, experimental, creative, and playful!

Life offers us the occasion to be in our bodies and to go be out in the world.

We can reproduce our own energy, free of charge. No flexibility, strength, or shape is required. These qualities are inherently cultivated through each small, practical step of the practice. Sustainability on a large scale begins with reviving our sovereignty on an individual level. Allowing our leadership to shine through in our personal choices, yoga can act as a brilliant mirror throughout life.

Crystal Cooper has called Marquette, MI home for a decade. Her communion with the northwoods deepened upon beginning yoga in 2013. Passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability, Crystal advocates yoga and other resiliency-promoting actions within the community.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Bodies In Motion: Yoga & Me, Yoga & You, by Diane Sautter

Yoga is profoundly subjective in individuals, yet objectively seen everywhere, including throughout the U.P. You may have noticed how interest in yoga and the variety of yoga classes available have grown. That is an objective story. My story with yoga is subjective, and will describe some of its inner workings.

My story begins with the birth of my first child. I had a long labor, and when the nurse performed the final measuring of the body’s dilation and ran my gurney down the corridor to the operating room, I watched this body shoot itself down the cosmic tunnel from a strange distance. The tunnel appeared as a black hole. Timelessly, a baby was born of my body in the fusion with intensely luminated darkness. Ecstatic moments – beyond anything in my earlier life.

A year later, I saw an ad for yoga classes. I had been feeling broken down from birthing and baby care, and was in fairly low spirits. Feeling yoga might help, I joined a class. A few days later, I bumbled through the postures and subsided into the final relaxation, stretched out on the floor. Deeper and deeper relaxation….. the teacher called it shavasana, the corpse pose. Slowly I let go, breathing deeply. Ecstatic energy, a sudden rise of voltage…. I was connected back with the experience of birthing. That experience was with me even before I had met a yoga teacher! Yoga had reopened me to the natural state of primal energy (called prana, in yogic vocabulary).

A surge of yoga teachers from India was coming to the U.S then, in the late 20th century. These were the teachers with whom I would meet and train. I found myself in the companionship of seekers. I experienced discoveries within practices that further opened perception, diving into the new books from the Far East that enriched and guided the practice of yoga. Ancient India had come to America, and I stepped into the ambiance of a civilization that constructed life on a vast sense of oneness. Yoga included the physical, psychological, and mental, and the overarching unifier was soul and spirit.

I learned that yoga was an old Sanskrit word meaning ‘yoke,’ expressing that we are connected (yoked) with the earth and its humans. Life itself is divine in higher perception (subjectivity again). During the long prehistoric tribal period (thought to be at least 100,000 years), humans lived in natural relation to the earth and to each other. Physically active, their body movements kept them grounded and in touch. As tribes moved into food cultivation, their movements became more repetitive. A hunter or gatherer is keen to the moment. A person planting seed feels the ache of repetition. Yoga seems to have gradually emerged as a way to keep in touch with the aboriginal relationship felt with the body. By the time people flooded into cities, this ancient practice of postures and attitude toward life (including spiritual experiences) brought about a more organized yoga. These ancient practices were formalized about 2000 years ago by Patanjali in the book Yoga Sutras. We still use his book today.

I gradually discovered that to give yoga to others, to teach …to bring life more alive, to break through the jails of self-limitations, to teach in order to learn, and to practice moving on the beam of stillness would help me in continuing my own yoga practice. And so I taught yoga in New York State when living there, and in Marquette when living here, for a total of fifty or so years.

Yoga celebrates subjectivity, and deep subjectivity is contact with oneness. Yoga, to yoke, to join all things together, union, means oneness! It is an activity that expresses oneness, and therein lies the bliss.

Yet objectively, as seen everywhere, there is a practice we can do that opens us to our birthright, to know the soul and the bliss of life. How many kinds of yoga are there? As many as people who practice yoga. Objectively infinite in its continuation, and subjectively infinite in its soul: infinite yoga.

Yet it is necessary to break things down in order to speak conceptually, for the mind. Traditionally, yoga practice is described as having four distinct approaches: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jana Yoga, and Raja Yoga. These names illustrate a way of practicing yoga.

Karma Yoga: Most yoga classes begin with Hatha yoga, meaning Sun/Moon yoga, literally. Hatha yoga is a way of experiencing our bodies and their potentials, and our connection with the natural world. Yoga postures communicate with this ancient and present earth; they express a physical, psychological, mental, and emotional way of being alive. Hatha yoga is part of Karma yoga, which refers to your everyday life, your Sun/Moon life. Karma yoga asks you to bring oneness and peace to your Sun/Moon life. That is yoga. One of my teachers said: Yoga is drinking water. Yoga is walking with friends. Yoga is that task you have to finish. Yoga is writing this subjective/objective note on yoga.

Bhakti Yoga: This is the yoga way of connecting with the oneness of the stream of life through engaging with emotional and psychological actions. Chanting is a devotional part of Bhakti yoga, and the many names and personalities of the deities from traditional stories line up with our various personalities as an evocative language of stories and images. Bhakti yoga asks for surrender because unless you release your habitual ideas and feelings, you will be unable to experience what you don’t yet know. And yoga is primarily a practice in opening yourself to a higher and larger experience of life.

Jana Yoga: This is the yoga way of connecting with the movements of life through the conceptual mind. Jana yoga is considered the most difficult pathway to knowing the oneness as mental conceptions often stray into mere ideas without a living connection. Philosophy leans on words, and words are often merely conceptual. Discoveries uncovered in Jana yoga change you. These discoveries of higher levels are experimental, matters of insight, matters of meditation, and all changes involve an increase in energy, the prana referred to in Patanjali’s sutras.

Raja Yoga: Raja yoga is an interlacing of the other three approaches to yoga: Karma, Bhakti, and Jana. Subjectivity is obvious here, because a practitioner or teacher will naturally create a mixture of the three that supports his or her practice of yoga.

The practice of yoga is subjective and objective, as are the hatha yoga classes you find around you, with aspects of the Karma, Bhakti, Jana. Hatha yoga is natural and also consciously directed. Most yoga classes are a mixture of ways to “still the mind.” Look for the teacher and class that fit you. At different times you may want different “mixtures.” You may also find hybrid classes that combine Hatha yoga with Pilates, or the arts (writing, painting, music, dance), or aerobics.

Yoga is proliferating, with more approaches to yoga now available to meld with the unique subjectivities of U.P. seekers. Perhaps the great friendship you can have with yoga will draw you to explore the ways of yoga in the variety of offerings available to you. Yoga (oneness) is infinite. . . and through seeking, you will likely discover your way.

Diane Sautter Cole is a retired English professor from NMU, where she taught writing, literature and mythology. Her yoga teaching began in New York State in the 1970s. She also taught yoga in Marquette and in the Physical Education department of NMU.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2017 – 2018 Issue, copyright 2017. All rights reserved.