Here we are at the Spirit Room in July of 2016 having grown from eight volunteers in 1997. The volunteers created a collective organization by contributing $50 per month. The Spirit Room has evolved into an arts and cultural center in downtown Fargo serving 9,500 people per year. Becoming a non-profit in 2004 meant that our activities are required to be supported by the public and that we serve the public through programming. We are supported through memberships, donations, grants and fundraising. Our 16 weekly classes contribute to our income in addition to special event space rentals, most of which are required to support our mission.
Our mission is "to enrich people's lives through the development and practice of creative, contemplative and healing arts." We engage with individuals and organizations to create an educational experience that includes the community in the outcome. In accordance with the humanities model, much of our programming is free, being paid for by funders. By being a grassroots organization, our projects come to us from the community. We develop programming and many times act as a fiscal agent for projects.
The Spirit Room divides programming into the three primary components but many times they overlap. To be a fully developed human being, we each need to have a sense of well- being, tools to create well-being and a creative outlet to share with others. Creative programming includes gallery exhibits, literary events, humanities & musical events, dance and space for 24 artist studios. Contemplative programming includes mind-body wellness classes, workshops, a book club and retreats aimed to uplift the individual and develop heightened awareness of the present. Regarding the overlap in the components of our mission, you might regard painting or writing, for instance, as contemplative art too. Healing arts such as massage, healing touch, and counseling contribute to the well- being of the whole person enabling relaxation and a sense of gratitude to become incorporated into the fabric of life.
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Yoga is an ancient system of integrating body, mind and spirit. Yoga stretches (Asanas) lead the practitioner to feel energized and relaxed, while encouraging flexibility, strengthening the body and toning the muscles. Yoga is also a wonderful means of alleviating tension, enabling one to regain mental balance with a sense of clarity and well-being.
Yoga at the Sprit Room is an exercise program that is gentle, yet provides comprehensive bodywork. The Spirit Room provides a nurturing environment for those who look to a more gentle approach to well-being, incorporating yoga asanas, breathwork , deep relaxation and meditation.
Practice on an empty stomach Come to class clean without heavy perfumes Wear comfortable clothing that will move easily with your body Yoga should always be done barefoot Be patient with yourself; accept and honor your body Always move with awareness, responsibility, and inner focus Never skip final relaxation
What does Yoga do for you?
Overall restoration of inner balance and harmony Tones the endrocrine system (glands) Lubricates spine and joints Increases energy flow through the nerves Cleanses the circulatory system and heart Stimulates digestive cycle Brings strength and flexibility to the body Releases tension and promotes healing
Please do not forget about the importance of a positive attitude and an open mind. Practicing Yoga is a way for you to transform and evolve, to move out of unbalance and move into well being. Be kind and gentle towards yourself, and keep it up. Regular practice is the key.
Asanas are steady poses. There are about 84,000 postures which are a tribute to humanity. These asanas tell a story about us. As we move into a yoga pose, we go gently, with awareness. When we are in the pose we breathe and focus inward. Still body, supreme consciousness in sensation, mind in meditation.
Postures do so much for us. They bring us strength, balance, relaxation, and flexibility. Most of all, they remove mental and physical burdens, anxieties, and diseases.
Pranayama means breath control. In yoga practice, this is our intimate relationship with our life force. The breath carries vital energy through out our system and gives every cell oxygen. Breathing exercises and breath focus has great purpose in hatha yoga practice. It brings relaxation by creating mental serenity and rejuvination and through releasing of dormant energy.
Styles of Yoga
By Dawn Morgan
There are various schools of yoga. Practitioners new to yoga can try different styles to determine which approach works for them. New students will find that even within a certain style of yoga, individual teachers vary greatly. They will also find that one style may be good now and may change completely later on. There are also varying degrees of complexity within the styles, resulting in children’s classes, maternity classes and senior’s classes. There are also beginning through advanced classes within the various styles.
Most schools follow basic elements of yoga but vary according to the influence of a particular teacher. Hatha or Physical Yoga is one of eight limbs of yoga that date back thousands of years in the history of India. The eight limbs of yoga are systems of discipline and personal development practiced by millions of Indians historically. The four most common Hatha Yoga schools are Iyengar Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga and Kundalini Yoga.
Ananda Yoga is the Sanskrit word for bliss which means extreme happiness, ecstacy, spiritual joy, divine consciousness. ANANDA is not dependent on the objects or situations in the world or mind, but is inherent in every individual. the purpose of ANANDA YOGA is to awaken and energize and expand and heighten self awareness of this heavenly bliss. No experience necessary, ANANDA YOGA is open to all - wherever you are on your journey - as a gentle, inward path to ultimate bliss.
Iyengar Yoga is taught by B.K.S. Iyengar, who was born in India in 1918 and still lives there today. Students travel to India and stay for long periods of study, sometimes years, to learn his approach. Traditionally, yoga has been taught master to student without written texts. Iyengar’s book, Light on Yoga, published in 1966, has enabled yoga to spread all over the world and has been translated into eighteen languages. Iyengar Yoga is precise and emphasizes angular postures and the use of props such as straps, blocks and ropes to move the body into the asanas (positions). The asanas are held for increasingly longer periods of time as the practitioner advances in the discipline.
Sivananda Yoga was developed by a medical doctor, Swami Sivananda, born in South India in 1887. Swami Shishni Denanagda introduced Sivananda’s style of yoga to the West in the 1950’s. Sivananda Yoga is based on 12 key postures, sun salutations, breathing techniques, meditation and chanting. Because Sivananda Yoga works with variations on the basic postures, it is one of the most versatile and easily adaptable styles to various levels of physical development. Classes can be easily adapted to the student, graduating from a gentle to a rigorous approach.
Ashtanga Yoga, taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, is based on an ancient manuscript called the Yoga Korunta. It is a system of Hatha Yoga, thought to be the practice intended by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This text was deciphered and organized by Pattabhi Jois in the 1930’s and is currently one of the most popular styles of yoga worldwide. This style of yoga is rigorous and athletic and may be the most demanding style of yoga. Beginners can work with individual postures before progressing toward the Primary Series and onward.
Kundalini Yoga is based on the teachings of the Sikh master, Yogi Bhajan who introduced the system to the West in 1969 and founded the 3HO Organization (Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization) here in the United Sates. This form of Yoga makes use of breathing techniques, particularly the “Breath of Fire” while holding postures. It focuses on hand and fingers gestures, body locks, chanting, singing and meditation. Kundalini Yoga aims to awaken the energy reserves at the base of the spine and raise this energy up through the chakras (energy centers) along the spine to enhance awakening to greater levels of energy, clarity and joy.
Vinyasa Yoga is sequenced yoga postures with the primary focus on the breath. The breath leads the way from one posture to the next, therefore, the mind must know exactly where the breath is to flow evenly. Another aspect of Vinyasa practice is observation of mental discourse and mental patterning. Students concentrate the mind in the present, allowing the mind to become calm and steady. Vinyasa Yoga carefully balances each asana with counter postures. The sequences change as the physical body changes with the practice. Vinyasa Yoga emphasizes individual instruction. More advanced Vinyasa sequences are combined with sacred prayers and mantras. The use of prayers and mantras usually begins after many years of yoga sequencing when the element of earth is tamed, the physiological body has been calmed and the mind remains passive throughout the yoga sequences.
Anusara Yoga was founded by John Friend in 1997 and emphasizes the meaning of the word “Anusara,”as “Flowing with Grace.” Practitioners focus on opening the heart and accepting all experience as divine: sensation, perception, emotion and thought. The asanas are seen as a dance of “flowing with Supreme Consciousness”. Therefore, light-heartedness, play and joyful creativity are part of the yoga practice. Anusara Yoga teaches five Universal Principles of Alignment, with study of energetic loops and spirals within the body that help in finding the best form for each individual.
Kripalu Yoga has been developed at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. Kripalu is the largest retreat center for Yoga and healing in the United States. A non-profit organization begun thirty years ago, Kripalu has brought yoga into mainstream locations such as schools, senior citizen centers, hospitals and prisons. Kripalu Yoga would be described as a gentle yoga.
Atma Yoga was developed by Christopher Baxter following thirty years of teaching yoga at Kripalu. Having been trained in Iyengar Yoga and following years of successive injuries from his precise and angular yoga practice, he developed a style of yoga that combines postures based upon “core lift” (use of the bondas) for central stability, and then adding breath and fluid movement. For example, the tree balance posture is grounded with the roots into the earth. Fluidity is added with movement of the branches. Stability, movement and joyfulness are combined in Atma Yoga practice.
Vajrasana Yoga is the style of yoga that evolved for Dawn Morgan of the Spirit Room. Dawn has completed nine levels of Shambhala Meditation Training and has led meditation sessions at the Spirit Room for twelve years. Beginning yoga practice in the late sixties, she received a certification in Atma Yoga in 2002. Dawn has combined Hatha Yoga, which is traditionally Hindu or Sikh, with elements of Buddhist mindfulness training. Bringing body, mind and emotion together encourages resting in the present and letting go of busyness and tension. Vajrasana Yoga is practiced by relaxing with the outbreath, allowing discursive thought to be released from the mind and rigidity released from the body. When thoughts take one away from the present, the practitioner gently comes back to the body and the breath. Spatial awareness and lack of inherent solidity are explored within the body, the mind and the world. Practitioners are encouraged to take the practice into daily life. By being stable, steady and present in the world, assuming a posture of dignity and openness, we uplift ourselves and others. Vajrasana Yoga is Contemplative Yoga.
Laughter Yoga Laughter through a laughter yoga class allows for first hand commuication of joy through laughter without needing a sense of humor or a cadre of jokes. The concept of a Laughter Yoga Club was first developed in India by Dr. Madan Kataria. It has speread quickly to over 60 countries and over 60,000 clubs have been established. The first Laughter Yoga Club in North Dakota is offered at the Spirit Room.
Prenatal Yoga is a class especially for pregnancy. It is based on sound principals with the emphasis on safety while promoting strength, flexibility and endurance in an inclusive, non-competitive environment.
All classes will follow sounds principles of alignment and are safe for all trimesters. Each class will have three phases: warm up, working phase and stretching/relaxation. We will work with the breath to promote concentration and relaxation.
Our prenatal yoga class is a practice for two, mom and baby. We want to nurture the bonding time between mom and baby. Our Yoga practice will help to prepare for the work of labor. It will also provide our expectant moms with a time to be with other moms-to-be and share their unique experiences.
Class length will be 50 minutes. We will use props in class: sturdy chairs, blankets, blocks and pillows to modify poses to meet each individual need. The student is asked to bring a pillow or two to each class for use in final relaxation.
As with any exercise program, it is strongly advised that pregnant women consult their doctors before beginning prenatal yoga.
Ways that our prenatal yoga class will differ from a regular yoga class are:
* We will avoid over-stretching * We will not practice inverted poses * We will not be holding our breath * We will limit our time standing and limit our time on our backs.