Welcome to Our New Blog

Hello! We are working to transform this blog into a more regular occurrence through
collaboration of the musings and reflections of Brian Baty, local massage therapist and owner of
Inner Harmony Yoga, as collected and framed by Sara Clement, professional freelance writer
and owner of Mama Bear Birth Arts and Building Bridges Counseling and Consulting.
We hope to expand upon the ramblings explored in class---so that what we journey through may
be better implemented into our collective awareness; solidifying and giving breath to the
understanding of what we have ventured through within our practice as a community at Inner
Harmony. As we learn to focus on the breath, Inner Harmony is striving to help us achieve that
goal. There will be a special class (in place of the regular posted schedule for Thursdays) on
Thanksgiving, November 23rd, at 10:30am. This is a donation-based class offered to ensure
that as we rush through the events of the holiday, we remember to take time to ask ourselves
what we are grateful for. What a gift it is to our families when we take that gratitude back
home--- a greater sense of purpose, of center, and of peace for the ultimate manifestation of the
sentiment, “Namaste”---the divine in me honors the divine in you...

We hear it in every class: “It’s a practice, not a perfect.” It is that very phrase that exemplifies the
unique tone found at Inner Harmony. We are asked to strive for strength in our postures,
beyond an expectation of attainment. We are asked to reach, to expand, to quiet our ego, and
to let the posture guide us in every moment. In that, our nervous system is tapped into, and old
fears may surface, but our awareness is led into greater stillness as we are led into the journey
of understanding the underlying reality of our muscles, bones and nervous system. It is the
central nervous system, both sympathetic and parasympathetic, that we’ll begin to explore
today. These two modalities of our central nervous system inform our bodies of what we need
to do. The parasympathetic nervous system is where we are designed to exist for the majority
of our day; it is the state of non-arousal, of relaxation and unfettered breath. In contrast, our
sympathetic nervous system is how we manage to survive danger.

Once upon a time, it was our ability to act swiftly in “fight or flight” to evade or defeat the attack
of a Saber-toothed Tiger, which ensured our survival. In essence, the sympathetic nervous
system is how we, as human beings, managed to make it to today, though it was always meant
to be the least of our human experience. However, even though we no longer have to protect
our lives from the potential attack of mighty predators, our culture has pushed us into this same
mode of constantly being in a fight or flight place. Blinking neon lights, text messages,
inescapable work emails, family expectations and holiday demands, news outlets that alert us to
happenings both far and near that demand our cortisol levels will blast through our bodies at a
near constant state. ...we live in that state of hyper alert for most of our waking hours. It takes
its toll.

That is why we come to yoga. It helps us to switch off the sympathetic nervous system and
back into a state of parasympathetic awareness, back into the body, where we are safe, calm
and whole. We feel better. It is because it allows us to shut off the constant, “GO GO GO!” that
our culture demands of us. As we navigate our modern existence, more than two thirds of our
muscles are engaged constantly. We need most those muscles to be engaged, to stand, walk,
and to busily move through the day. But, which muscles can we release? The jaw. The
muscles in the face. Maybe the forearms or shoulders can let go, even if just for the moment. Is
there a purpose to engage muscles that could be relaxed? Is there a way to take advantage of
moments wherein some muscles can release their engagement? Can we ask ourselves to let
go, to close our eyes and just gently allow the feeling of the breath moving in and out, with our
spine stacked in effortless balance. Can we practice giving the parasympathetic nervous system
time to relax and allow us to find what we are grateful for today?

When we finish our yoga, we feel better because we just spent time training our
parasympathetic nervous system to take the stage---where it belongs---peacefully regarding our
environment as a place where we can breathe safely. Beyond the bonus of tighter abs, or the
goal of strength and flexibility, which are absolutely among the perks of a regular practice, our
yoga makes us feel better. It makes us better partners, better friends, better workers, better
parents...better humans. Our ability to slow down, to take a pause...yoga gives us that, and that
is why we practice; it infiltrates our lives, and the lives of those around us. Be patient with
yourself. Practice---and when you breathe, allow the universe in.