Ellie Holbrook, MA, LPCC, RYT200 is…

…A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor:  Ellie counsels women, men, adolescents, and professionals from all walks of life. She is committed to the well-being of her clients and dedicated to helping them meet their unique individual life and wellness goals as they optimize their personal satisfaction in life. As a coach, Ellie specializes in the art of positive living.

…A Registered Yoga Teacher:  Ellie is a certified yoga instructor, registered with the Yoga Alliance at the 200 hour level.  She is currently engaged in advanced teacher training.  Ellie teaches daily yoga classes at Satsanga, her studio, in Spicer, Minnesota.

…A Co-Founder of Satsanga:  Ellie, and her partner Ashley Christianson, are co-founders of Satsanga, a gathering place in which individuals gather to share the company of the “highest truth” through various means of study, practice, and reflection.  The ultimate goal is to assimilate the meaning of these personal truths into one’s daily life.  At Satsanga, we welcome you to join us in the practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Holistic Well-Being.

…A DONA-trained birth doula: Ellie is a DONA-trained birth doula. She is enthusiastic about childbirth, and passionate about supporting expecting women and their families.

Solid Foundation

March 2nd, 2015

This week’s yoga challenge focused on activating, and therefore, strengthening the lower body. Unlike a few weeks ago, when we paid extra-special attention to the opening of the lower body and the emotional reservoir that it can be, this week focused on the strength and stability of the very same region, which also happens to be the foundation of our physical and energetic bodies.

As if referring to yoga, Henry David Thoreau has been quoted as saying, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

And so it is in practice. In yoga, just as in life, the integral structure of anything physical is built upon its foundation. And when the foundation is strong, it keeps us grounded by providing stability and support and allowing for balance. It is only when we are rooted in a strong internal and external foundation that we are able to ebb, flow, and move with strength and grace, for when we root deeply and surrender, trusting that the earth will support us, we are able to rise and expand upward.

In yoga, we can this “sthira sukham asanam”.

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Lent 2015

February 24th, 2015

As many of you probably know, this year’s Lent season began last week.  Traditionally, many of us honor Lent by making a sacrifice of some sort, abstaining from something, fasting, or removing something that we will miss during the 46 days leading up to Easter.  Ideally, the commitments that we make as we honor Lent are made with self-improvement in mind, as we look within ourselves and discover what we may do to better ourselves and our lives as a whole, which, quite often, includes eliminating something from our lives, temporarily or, sometimes, permanently.

And because the intention behind this releasing of obstacles is to better one’s self, I fully support it, no matter one’s spiritual background, denomination, belief system.  Yet, I recognize that we do not all approach this season in the same way, so I enjoy reading up on it.  And as I did so this year, I came across,  yet again, the idea of using the season of Lent as a time to release something old so that one might create or embrace something new in their lives.  And I love this idea.  I love the idea of setting the intention to give up something that no longer serves us, so that we may embrace something that does.  This idea is called a Positive Lent, which refers to making the commitment to add something into one’s life in a positive manner, rather than emphasizing the idea of foregoing something else. 

In my reading, I came across an article by Reverend James Martin, who suggested that those who acknowledge the Lenten season approach the season differently this year and instead do something positive for themselves, or the universe as a whole.  Specifically, followers of this thought are encouraged to practice a “positive” Lent  rather than a “negative” one that emphasizes sacrifice and abstinence, by taking the time to do something good, or as he writes, to “bother to love”. Instead of giving up behaviors or habits that you are trying to kick anyway, why not focus on doing something positive for yourself, or more importantly, for others. 

Reverend James quotes Jesus in the Gospel, saying “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” So whether you are Christian or not, why not take these words of Jesus literally and bother to share the love that has filled your heart.  Show compassion and mercy to those you encounter.  Pay attention to your loved ones, and bestow loving-kindness upon them. And do the same for yourself by embracing your own goodness, and allow others to do the same for you.

…With this said, perhaps you are not ready to replace your current Lenton season with another approach, or perhaps you do not celebrate this season at all.  And if so, that is okay.  Yet, nonetheless, give this idea some thought during other times of the year, and reflect on how you might benefit from letting things go, so that you may let other things come, which, really, is the heart of this lesson. 

So, if you feel moved to do so, take the opportunity that is this Lenten season, and invest your energies in doing something positive.  Be kind.  Do good.  Bother to show your love.  To yourself, and all beings. 

Ellie Holbrook, MA, LPCC, RYT200

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

February 24th, 2015

Welcome to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 22nd-28th 2015).

The awareness of Eating Disorders is especially important to me, on both a professional and personal level.

As a therapist and yoga instructor, I work with many individuals that have struggled to create a harmonious relationship their bodies, exercise, and food, for various reasons and in various ways.

As a human, I have a deep understanding of this struggle, for I struggled myself for may years. In fact, it was 15 years ago this very week that I was hospitalized for my own Eating Disorder.

So, for those of you that understand this struggle, no matter how or why, I encourage you to spread the ‪#‎NEDAwareness‬. And for those of you that need further education, I encourage you to seek that out.

Namaste!

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Core Strength

February 21st, 2015

In my yoga challenge this week, we focused on the core of the body. 

In yogic terms, the body’s core is defined as the workings of the entire torso.  This includes the major and minor, inner and outer muscle groups, the stabilizer muscles, the connective tissues, organs, and energetic bodies of the entire midsection.  According to a yogic definition, the core is not just a body part, rather it is an entire system that is to be incorporated, at least in some way, during almost any and all yogic practices. 

As I led this week’s core challenge, I heard myself repeating such phrases as, “engage and activate the core”, “lift from the core”, “draw from the core”, “deepen the core” and so on…

And as I listened to myself describe these body movements, I could not help but to draw a parallel to what it is like to live from our core in a subtle and figurative sense of the same verbage.  For, as I have said many times, in yoga, we can emphasize one part of our being, but we cannot completely isolate it.  Therefore, when we engage, activate and draw from our core in asana, we do the same from within, but this time, from the core of our very being that has nothing to do with our physical bodies.

If you think about that for a moment, I think that you will find it to be true.  For when we live from the core of our truest selves, draw strength and direction from our core values, and live in accordance with the deepest aspects of who we are within, and we are aligned with our core, we are at our very best.  And we know this to be true, because we feel our inner strength, we are in tune with our source, and we are able to draw from within and live according to this reservoir within.

So while we may be able to emphasize our core physically in asana, we really are doing much deeper work than we may realize at the moment… and THIS, this is yoga.  And this is a beautiful thing.

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Free

February 16th, 2015

As a student and teacher of Astanga yoga, I sometimes find myself feeling bored and uninspired by the practice, which is otherwise so grounding, challenging, and meditative for me. But this morning, I just wasn’t feeling it.

So I, with my tea and a Burning Man playlist, sat down on my bedroom floor in my nightie and did a card reading. The card reading turned into meditation. Meditation turned into pranayama. Pranayama turned into movement.
And the movement turned into my yoga practice.

And what a delicious practice it turned out to be. It was fluid, light, and creative, soft and strong and open. It was, as the saying goes, poetry in movement. And it felt amazing for both my body and my spirit.

…Lift the expectations. Let the world go. Forget about the rules. And allow yourself to be free.

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Yoga and Emotions

February 15th, 2015

In my yoga challenge this week, we have given extra-special attention to the hips and lower-body regions to help runners and other athletes address training-specific conerns. And this asana-specific training excites me!

So, to make this training more thorough, I feel as though I must acknowlege an extremely important, yet often over-looked, aspect of this hip-opening practice, which involves the emotions that are stored within the lower body regions.

As a yoga instructor and therapist, I feel that it is extremely important to bear in mind that our bodies do not operate alone. Rather, our physical bodies are just one aspect of a very complex and intricate system that makes up our entire being. And it is our lower bodies that often store emotions in need of further attention, processing, and healing. These processes occur in many shapes and forms and are healthy for us to experience, despite the fact that they may be uncomfortable, especaially when they become substantial and important. Yet, even so, these sensations are to be welcomed, as they are good and necessary.

….With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the yoga practices (asana and pranayama, etc) that we employ impact more than just our physical bodies.

So, as you move forward in the practice, I would like you to keep your entire self (mind, body, spirit) in mind. And, as you do, listen closely to your own self. Ask questions when they arise. Make observations. And get comfortable with who, and where, you are now.

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Let It Be

February 10th, 2015

In writing this column over the years, I have often used the term “let it go”.  But what does that even mean?  According to a number of sources, the term “letting go” refers to the literal and figurative act of “refraining or resisting the ‘doing’ of something”; or, “to relinquish an emotional grip” that we might have on something or someone.  Personally, I prefer the latter definition, as most often when we use the term “letting go” it is an emotional process more so than an actual action.

Throughout our lives, as most of us well know, we are forced to learn to let things go all the time.  Whether is it by choice or coercion, we must learn to release the emotional grip we have on relationships, occupations, patterns of behavior, status symbols, etcetera.  And whether we like it or not, this is good for us.  Because, it lends itself to personal growth, and, eventually, it also will lead to peace. 

…Or will it?  It seems to me that letting go does not actually bring us peace until we also learn to let those very same things be.  And “letting be” cannot happen without letting go, for the two are not quite the same.  As defined above, letting go involves releasing the emotional grip we have on whoever or whatever it is that we have become attached to, thus setting it free.  Whereas letting it be is to learn to accept what is and sit with how things are once we have let something go. 

To “let it be” is to leave things alone, whether we want to or not.  It is to resist the temptation to engage with, meddle, or interrupt whatever is going on within us and around us.  It is to sit with the emotions that arise, no matter how unpleasant, so that these feelings may be processed and healed.  To let be is to ride the waves of our innermost experiences just as they are, whether we are content with them or not.  It is tending to these emotional experiences without suppressing, repressing, numbing, or turning to something else as a distraction.  It is to take a very honest and raw look at what is left after our letting go, and to be still.  It is sitting with one’s self, and all that we feel and experience and giving them time. 

After letting go, to let it be is to find a way to accept “all that is” in that moment.  To have faith. And, eventually, to move inward, onward, and forward.  

Ellie Holbrook, MA, LPCC, RYT200

 

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Yoga and Meditation Schedule: 2.10.2015 – 2.15.2015

February 10th, 2015

Yoga and Meditation for the remainder of the week:

 

Tuesday (2.10.2015):  Lower-Body/Creative-Core at 4.30pm and Yin Yoga at 6.00pm, both with Ashley

Wednesday (2.11.2015):  Modified Astanga with Ellie at 5.30pm

Thursday (2.12.2015): Meditation at 5.00pm and Happy Hour Yoga at 5.30pm, both with Ellie

Friday (2.13.2015):  BodyBlend at 8.30am, Gentle Flow at 10.00am, and Friday the 13th Happy Hour at 5.00pm

Saturday (2.14.2015):  Easy Like Saturday Morning at 10.00am with Ellie

Sunday (2.15.2015): Candle Light Yoga at 6.00pm with Ellie 

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Alchemy of the Soul: A Workshop

January 30th, 2015

Alchemy (al·che·my|alkəmē) a seemingly magical process of transformation or creation

 

Alchemy of the Soul: Session One

Saturday, February 21st, 9.30am – 12.00pm

Join the women of Satsanga in a morning of Self-Love.  Together, we will engage in soulful conversation and meditation, create a unique blend of teas, oils, and natural beauty products to take home, and learn how to use them to creatively express and invoke the beauty of our inner goddess.

To register, email Ashley and Ellie at satsanga139@gmail.com.  $70 per goddess.  Price includes 2.5 hour event, an array of Ayurvedic beauty products, including herbal tea, infused oils, a variety of face masks, as well as techniques to use at home.

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Earth to Self. Can you hear you?

January 27th, 2015

It is the end of January.    This means that we should be making fine progress towards our New Year’s Resolutions, if we have not already crossed them off our lists, correct?

Just kidding.

While it is correct that January is already over, it is safe to assume that most of us still have considerable work to do before we are able to kiss our New Year’s resolutions and goals goodbye.  Which means that many of us have  life-work to do, and this work is undoubtedly some of the most difficult internal work we do as humans.

So, how do we get this work done?

First and foremost, it is important that we reignite the relationship that we have with our very own self.  This means re- tuning into the messages we receive from our bodies, our intuition, and the loved ones and endeavors that lift us higher.  As you do this, consider what it is that you transmit and receive in life.  What about this works for you, and what does not? In what ways do you dis/connect from yourself and others?

The following points are ways that many of us dampen and sever the connection we have with those most important to us, including our own selves.

Being everywhere but here:  In yoga, we often discuss the idea of “being present.”  But what does that even mean?  It means that we are able to channel our presence in order to be available to the moment that we are in.

Ignoring the body:  Many of us learn to disassociate from our physical bodies and instead learn pay more attention to physical habits that mandate our bodily attention , such as food ,body image, addiction, self-care, etcetera.  Regardless of your bodily experience, know that embodiment is the connection. Therefore, live within your body:  listen to its messages, relearn how and when to feed it, give it plenty of movement, and just as importantly, rest, and find faith in its processes.

Ignoring your thoughts:  Walk through a day-in-your-mind, and notice the commentary.

Attempting  to prove our worth:  You are enough, and you are worthy.  Worth is not proved.  It is inherent.

Mixing up priorities:   This is easier said than done.  Nonetheless, ask yourself:  What are your priorities in life?  How do you show prioritization to those that you cherish?  How do you prioritize your own needs?

Trusting outside information over your own intuition:   Ignore technology.  Ignore the media.  Ignore what doesn’t resonate.  Instead, let go and connect with the rhythms of your body and mind.

Compromising yourself and loved ones:   Stop people-pleasing.  Advocate and be assertive on behalf of yourself and your loved ones.

Find balance:  For most, balance does not exist in the sense that we pursue it.  Balance is not a fixed state, rather it is a fluid state of adjustment, adaptation, giving and receiving.

Limiting joy:  Make time for the things that feel good and light your soul on fire.  Laugh.  Play.  Embrace all that brings you joy.

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