Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Holiday Wish


How can such a magical time of year, with all the lights, decorations, and cheer, be one of the most stressful, too? I wish I had a good answer, but I don't. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves - or feel pressured by outside sources - for everything to be perfect during the holiday season, that we end up tired and stressed out. Let's be honest, who hasn't hit the "Holiday Wall" at one time or another? I can remember standing in Toys R Us at midnight, blurry eyed, frustrated, and downright angry because they were sold out of some special toy one of my daughters wanted. Or how about the time I had this brilliant idea of making pans and pans of cinnamon rolls by scratch for all my family and friends. I ended up sitting in a heap on our kitchen floor in tears! I will have to say, though, that I came away from that fiasco with a tremendous respect for professional bakers!

This year will be different. Our two daughters are grown and on their own. Honestly, I am looking forward to a very simple Christmas this year with a small tree, a few gifts under it, and spending time with loved ones. And that's my wish for all of you: that in the midst of all the busy-ness, you will find a glimmer of simplicity. A moment to sit with a cup of tea and a good book; a nice dinner and conversation with a loved one; a walk in the woods; quiet time for prayer or meditation; or simply taking several deep breaths.

Taking the time to stop occasionally throughout the season and to jump off the holiday treadmill is oh-so-important for our self-care. Please take care of yourself during the next few weeks and end the year on a healthy note.*

Peace to all,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Thanks at Body Grace

Here is the Thanksgiving weekend line-up of class offerings.

Teachers are donating their time and talents and ALL classes are donation-based.
Warm apple cider will be served in our beautiful lounge after each class.

Donations for classes will go to a different charity each day. You are welcome to give a cash or check donation or simply click your class-pass and place it in the donation basket and Body Grace will make the donation.

Friends and family are always welcome to our classes!

Visit www.bodygrace.com

Wednesday Evening, November 24

6:45 - 8:00 pm, Flow Yoga 1 – 2 with Jan
"Count Your Blessings"

A candlelit class (okay fake candles) centered around the heart with gentle backbendsand shoulder openers, ending with a relaxing restorative pose.

Donations to Committee for Helping Others
- A local nonprofit providing simple, loving charity to those in need of goods and services which they are unable to provide for themselves.

Please bring canned goods or donate your class.

Thanksgiving Morning

10:00 - 11:00 am, Slow Flow Yoga with Kathy
"Turkey Day Tranquility"

A morning meditation and movement class--pause before the food and football--to give thanks for life's many gifts and to stoke digestive fires in preparation for the day's indulgences. A gentle sequence, suitable for any friends and family new to yoga.

Donations to Our Military Kids
A nonprofit group offering grants for after-school activities to preschool through high-school aged children of active duty or injured National Guard service men and women.

Friday Morning, November 26

A Day to De-Turkefy or Tofu-kefy

9:15 - 10:15 am, Yoga Strength with Jan

Let the world of yoga and traditional strength training collide!
After a yoga-inspired warm-up, we'll grab tubes and weights, as well as use our own body weight to build strength and then end with deep stretches and reward ourselves with relaxation.
This class requires athletic shoes.

10:30 - 11:45 am, Yoga Flow 1 – 2 with Jan

Detox with a flowing practice emphasizing strong core work and twists.

Noon - 1:00 pm, Slow Flow with Jan

Take a break from shopping and enjoy a relaxing, slower paced yoga practice that will help you feel refreshed.

Donations to Committee for Helping Others for all classes - Please bring canned goods or donate your class.

Saturday Morning, November 27

9:30 - 10:30 am, Pilates with Julie Moore
An all-levels class. Participants will be encouraged to work at their own level.

Donations to Committee for Helping Others - Please bring canned goods or donate your class.

10:45 am Noon, Flow Yoga 1 - 2 with Diane
"A Gratitude Practice"
Lots of Sun Salutations and flow to continue the detox process.

Donations to Global Giving
A nonprofit that connects donors with grassroots projects around the world to make a high impact.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jan Crerie


Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to Create a B.A.D attitude

“By paying attention and by listening to yourself, you can begin to get to the root of your attitudes and feelings. And from there it is easy to see what needs to change.” – Deb Shapiro

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” – Albert Schweitzer

One of the most important components of my job as a group fitness/yoga instructor is to know what is going on with class participant’s bodies. Having that information helps me with cueing and allows me to show modifications where needed. Within the last several weeks I’ve heard this statement more times than I would like to count, “I’ve got a bad (insert body part here).” To be honest, we don’t have “bad” body parts. However what can be bad and quite unhealthy is the self-dialogue we use to describe our body.

Suppose a loved one came to you and said, “Gosh, I’m going through a rough time.” How would you respond? Hopefully, if you really cared for that person, you would engage them in a meaningful conversation to find out how you might be of some help. The last thing you would say to them would be, “That’s right, you’re going through this because you’re bad.” I’m not a psychic, but I do believe the conversation would come to a screeching halt. So why is it that when our bodies are going through some challenges we label them “bad”? Shouldn’t we show our bodies just as much love and respect as we would our friend going through a difficult time?

Creating an affirming language allows more healing to take place and self-acceptance to begin. These “hot spots” or “sweet spots” in our bodies are challenges that can be overcome with patience and respect. Let’s look at “sensitive” body parts as places to honor and see all bodily “issues,” “tweaks,” and “crankiness” as little conflicts that can be dealt with if we are willing to invest the time. We need to accept the fact that not one of us is put together in the same way. Let’s celebrate that uniqueness, instead of comparing ourselves with others and feeling negative about what our bodies cannot do. Take a moment and congratulate yourself on what you can do!

Creating a Better-Affirming-Dialogue or “B.A.D.” attitude won’t always be easy. In fact, changing our negative thought processes to positive ones may be difficult at times, especially when we face some of life’s challenges. Deb Shapiro in her book “Your Body Speaks Your Mind” has this to say, “…affirmations may feel very superficial at first, as if you are just repeating platitudes in order to keep reality at bay…Remember, your body does hear you, so trust that it will work. It just may take time.” She goes on to write, “The body hears and responds to your thoughts and words. Developing a loving relationship with yourself that supports an acceptance of life, no matter what happens, encourages greater resilience.”

So how can we create a B.A.D. attitude? How might we change those negative words, thoughts and feelings into more loving ones?. We can begin by bringing more awareness into how our bodies are feeling and tuning into our inner dialogue. For example, let’s say you feel you have a “bad” back. What really may be going on in your back is “weakness” or “tightness” and your back needs to be strengthened or stretched to become healthier. Maybe your back feels “stiff” from lack of movement, especially if we are a “professional sitter,” so getting off the couch or chair and moving more may be what is needed. These descriptions are more affirming because they open the door to the healing process, giving us a starting place to work from. Constantly labeling our body as “bad” closes the door on that process.

The more we can tune in and practice a Better-Affirming-Dialogue about ourselves, the more we may see that positive way of thinking spilling out into other areas of our life. By letting that overflow to happen, we create a contagious B.A.D. attitude that will affect all those we have contact with, generating a healthier and more loving atmosphere.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


“Which do you want: perfection or wholeness? Often we strive for perfection. But perfection is unattainable, and striving for it limits us. Today sit quietly for a few minutes. As you breathe, imagine becoming a large container within which to hold your perfection and imperfection. When you can hold both, then you experience your wholeness.”
Judith Hanson Lasater (from A Year of Living Your Yoga)

A few weeks ago I randomly chose this passage to use as our opening meditation for the yoga classes. I would have never guessed then, that these few sentences would come back to mean so much to me right now.

I have a confession to make: I am a recovering perfectionist. And just when I think I have it under control, something will trigger those perfectionist tendencies. What snaps me out of it is usually a big dose of reality.

Take, for example, the studio. Back in May I had it in my head that when September rolled in, the place would be perfectly painted and decorated; the retail space would be stocked and ready; we’d have a new computer system and software installed; there would be a beautiful sign over the door; a new website and a full class schedule on the roster. We had three months to accomplish all of this, no problem; this was going to be a piece of cake, right? Wrong!

What’s funny about all of this is that our mantra throughout the construction phase has been, “Letting go of perfectionism.” The building is old, which I love, but that comes with imperfections, which can create some challenges in the construction phase. But was I really letting go of perfectionism or was it still there all along, hiding in my idea of opening the “perfect” studio in September.

And then, wait for it…a big dose of reality hits!

My mission is to promote healthy living in an encouraging, welcoming and beautiful environment that is also affordable. That meant a tight budget and lots of work done by us. Oh sure, I could have hired the pros to come in and do the job in half the time and, in a few instances, I did, but that would have increased our budget and moved me away from my mission of affordability.
You guessed it. September’s here and the studio is not yet complete.

But wait, there’s more! As if one dose of reality wasn’t enough, round two hits, even harder, the recent death of my father-in-law.

His passing was not unexpected. How quickly he left this earth was a surprise. I think God showed great mercy in taking Dad Crerie as He did. My husband, Bob, made it just in time to say good-bye. He reassured him that the family would take care of Mom Crerie, which had been a huge concern and stress for his father. Bob expressed his love to his father and told him it was okay to let go. Dad Crerie passed shortly afterward.

And that, my dear friends, has put everything in perspective.

Okay, so there’s still no carpet on the stairs and the retail space is not open and my office is unpainted and full of construction trash! All of that is superficial. The studio will get done slowly and surely. What really matters in the end is the deep inner connection we establish with our loved ones, our friends, and with each other.

So what do we have? Even with all of its imperfections right now, we have a beautiful, light-filled studio in which to find connection with each other and a place to take care of our health and well being.

Judith Lasater is absolutely right perfection is simply unattainable. She asks us to become containers in which to hold our perfections and imperfections and when we can do that, we experience wholeness. Which do we want perfection or wholeness? My prayer is that Body Grace becomes an amazing studio of wholeness.

Jan Crerie

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

I turned 50 a couple weeks ago. I felt pretty good about turning 50 or so I thought.

For months my family had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, an exotic trip or a party or perhaps a night out on the town, all great options. What I wanted, I told them was to have a lease signed on a studio. That would be the best present in the world. But over two years of looking was beginning to weigh heavily on me. If I was barking up the wrong tree and having my own place just wasn’t in the stars, then I needed a sign to let it go. That would be a gift also.

The stars did align and on April 30 I signed a lease. Happy Birthday To Me!

So why on May 16, when I woke up to the big 5-0, did I start the day with uncontrollable weeping? Why, dear God why, if anyone said Happy Birthday to me, I started crying? If I read a birthday wish on my computer…tears. Out for a walk with my husband on a spectacular spring day, a day I should have been enjoying, all I could do was cry. We had planned to go out for a wonderful dinner, but I couldn’t even do that. My family ended up cooking a delicious meal here at our house.

Then guilt crept into the whole, ugly mess. Why? Because I have so much in my life to be thankful for like an amazing, supportive family and friends; a strong, loving marriage; an exciting new chapter beginning in my career. I had no right to cry. I was just having myself a “pity party” as my mom use to call them. SNAP OUT OF IT!

But I couldn’t. So, my friends, I had to practice what I teach. Honoring my body, mind and spirit on this particular day, feeling and letting go of judgment. For whatever reason, my 50th birthday was a catalyst for a big, fat, huge release of emotions that had been building for many months and I needed to let it all out in order to move forward.

I felt better towards the end of the day. Though I will have to say a nice glass of wine and an enormous piece of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles helped a bit too!

Cheers to turning 50!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leap And The Net Will Appear

Back in November 2007 I wrote to you about beginning the search for my own studio space here in Vienna. So I am thrilled to inform you that I signed a three-year lease on a place this past week! A long time coming.

It has been one heck of a bumpy ride filled with many rough patches along the way. Through it all I have learned so much, not only about commercial real estate and bureaucracy, stuff I knew would come with this journey, but about myself too. What I didn’t expect was how much I would grow personally and spiritually. I have been pushed to do some things way beyond my comfort zone, like negotiating a lease. But with the advice from good friends, I managed to do a pretty good job.

Spiritually, I developed a daily prayer and meditation time that has sustained me. It is here that I began to notice changes taking place internally and I also learned an important lesson…be careful what you pray for! The answers to my prayers were not always what I expected nor wanted, but what I needed, which at times created disappointment and even sadness. Hey, but at the end of the day everything worked out exactly the way it should. Funny how that is!

I have experienced a whole slue of emotions in the last few days. From excitement and tears of joy to fear and brief moments of “oh crap, what have I done,” then rinse and repeat 50 times!

Even though I share my journey with you, what it ultimately comes down to is not about “me” but about “us”. Therefore your ideas, feedback, suggestions, thoughts and feelings are so important. I cannot impress this enough. Please share with me any ideas you may have regarding classes, scheduling, teachers you would like see come on board, workshop suggestions, anything really. All communication lines are open. Your input will be vitally important as we move forward to being a success!

And finally, there are not enough words to express my love and gratitude to everyone. Okay so I don’t have to get all mushy and weepy, I’ll just leave it at that.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Think Green!

Little darling, it’s been a long, cold lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say it’s all right.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say it’s all right.

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting. Little darling, it seems like year since it’s been clear. Here come the sun, here comes the sun and I say it’s all right. It’s all right. –George Harrison (lyrics from Here Comes the Sun)

For some reason I have had this George Harrison song stuck in my head for a couple of weeks. Oh I don’t know, maybe it’s because February 2010 will go down in history as one heck of a wintry month.
Who would have thought that not one, but two blizzards would hit this area in the time span of one week. And here we all thought that the major snowstorm we had in December would be “it” for the year. Ahh, but Mother Nature had other ideas for us didn’t she. Lets hope that we are done with the white precipitation until next year, but I need not remind everyone that we have had some major storms in March…heavy sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the snow! I loved how it brought everyone and everything to a stand still; how neighbors got out and helped each other; the sound of kids and adults sledding in our neighborhood park; as well as spending time with my family shoveling, walking and talking, shoveling, eating meals together, shoveling!

But as much as I loved all the snow, I’m over it! I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the color green…and yellow… pink… red…purple, all the colors of springtime.

So in honor of the color green and St. Patty’s Day I share with you my new favorite Green Detox Smoothie. One of my husband’s friends eats a raw food diet and shared this recipe with us. It is a great detoxifier and energizing drink, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Give it a try.

1 Banana
8 oz to 16 oz of orange juice (preferably unpasteurized, if you can find it or squeeze your own)
A handful of spinach leaves
2 kale leaves or swiss chard
8 oz of filtered water (don’t use tap water)

Blend everything together and enjoy!

Here is some interesting facts on Kale and dark green leafy veggies:

They are super foods and great detoxifiers, packed with beta-carotene, vitamin K and C, rich in minerals such as iron, manganese, calcium and potassium. However they do have a few drawbacks. Because of their high vitamin K content, particularly Kale, people taking anti-coagulants need to be careful about ingesting too much vitamin K.

These veggies in their raw state have a higher concentration of goitrogen, a naturally occurring substance that can interfere with the function of the thyroid. If you have thyroid problems you may want to avoid eating them raw and enjoy them cooked instead.

A little bit more controversial are the oxalates found in certain vegetables. Oxalates are a naturally occurring chemical ingested through both plant and animal sources. Too much oxalate can crystallize in the body and possibly cause health problems. Therefore those with gall bladder or kidney issues may wish to limit their intake of high oxalate foods.

As always, check with your doctor if you have concerns.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

February - The Heart Month

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” - John Andrew Holmes, Jr.

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” - Gandhi

There are two ways to look at the heart. One is physical and the other is spiritual.

Eating a more heart healthy diet or adding in some extra exercise that gets us moving is helpful in strengthening the heart. Or if we haven’t had a full medical exam in a while, maybe we should make an appointment to have our blood pressure checked and blood work done (my personal plan for the month) and then taking the necessary steps to improve any below normal findings.

Yoga teaches us that the body has seven energy centers or chakras. The fourth energy center is located at the heart. It is here that love, compassion, gratitude and self-acceptance lies. Think for a moment of all the heart expressions we use, for example “a heartfelt thank you,” “from the bottom of my heart,” and who amongst us doesn’t know the sadness of a ‘broken heart’. One of the reasons yoga has so many chest expansion poses such as backbends, is to help open up this area so that all the loving qualities of the heart can flow easier.

Here’s another way to think about it: Imagine a vertical line running down the center of the body. This vertical line is our connection with God, or Christ, your Source, the Universe, whatever your personal belief may be. Then imagine a horizontal line. This line represents our relationship with the world around us, our day-to-day life. These two lines intersect at the heart center, sometimes referred to as the Final Portal.

When we bring our hands to a prayer position at our heart and touch our thumbs to the breastbone, or bow our head in prayer, we are bringing our awareness inward and downward to the heart center, a reminder of the connection between the physical and spiritual world. How nice to know that the stuff that flows on the horizontal line can be lifted up on the vertical line to a higher power.

Focusing on strengthening our heart physically by eating right and exercising is vitally important to our overall health and well-being, but so too is taking the time to work on the spiritual side. A healthy heart flows with ease in all directions.

“It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason.” Blaise Pascal (17 century mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year

“We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us nearer to our invisible destination.”
- John O’Donahue, 1956-2008 (An ex Catholic priest, Irish poet and philosopher. This is the last verse from the poem “At the End of the Year").

I always look forward to the beginning of a new year. Not for resolution making, but for reflection. I enjoy taking some time now that the busyness of the holidays is behind me to reflect back over the previous year. I remember all the people or situations that taught me a thing or two and I give thanks for the many blessings in my life, as well as the many challenges. Honestly though, going through the low moments I was anything but thankful. Let’s see, frustrated, disappointed, angry and sad would be more like it. But working through these feelings, to the best of my ability, strengthened me both emotionally and spiritually, and for that I am truly grateful.

The New Year brings a fresh sheet of paper, ready for life to be written on it. I say, “Bring it on!”

“I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” – John O’Donohue

Happy New Year!

Here is the uneditied piece of poetry:

At the End of the Year

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline's longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(From the book, To Bless the Space Between Us)