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11:21 AM

Meet Gail Braverman, Long time AGW Student!

Picture 12

An interview with Gail Braverman

Native San Diegan, Gail Braverman, 71 years young, found A Gentle Way Yoga Center 14 years ago from a Massage Therapist referral. As a runner, she was always very athletic, so yoga was very different for her. She started with Lanita’s gentle classes and moved up to more active classes over time. Her favorite classes are Diane’s Brown Active classes.

Gail says, “A Gentle Way Yoga is a very warm and welcoming place with tremendous permission to listen to your own body and not do anything that isn’t right for you.” She says that attitude of acceptance, compassion, loving kindness and warmth is what makes this Center a true family.

She credits yoga for helping her and others through times of chaos, pain, suffering and loss. “Yoga is a ritual, something predictable and dependable no matter what’s going on in your life,” she says. She became a yoga teacher to give back the wonderful teachings that have been given to her. The classes here are led with “heart and soul”, she says.

Gail is a Marriage and Family Therapist, and she teaches yoga weekly at a synagogue. She loves doing workshops about the wisdom of the second half of life. She has three daughters, and five grandkids.

Gail says the message from Lanita and A Gentle Way Yoga is “be in any shape, size or age and feel welcomed. Lanita has served as a model of inspiration – being wholly who she is in a larger body and setting that example for others. She is influential in changing the thinking of what the image of yoga is and who can access it.”

We love you Gail!
6:20 PM

Meet Eric Olsen, A Long-Time AGW Student!

Eric Olsen

Eric Olsen, 63 years young, was one of the first men to walk-into A Gentle Way, and he is still with us to today. He took his very first class with us 13 years ago because of a referral from his acupuncturist.

Eric was suffering from a pinched nerve from an old high school football injury; had four shoulder surgeries and a painful, hurting back from his job operating heavy equipment. Acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care were all helping, but he needed more.

Eric knew nothing about yoga “other than it was taught by fit Barbie dolls” in a gym environment. He didn’t feel very comfortable in that type of yoga class - it seemed like all the students already knew what they were doing except for him. He was open to coming here because his acupuncturist told him it’s a different kind of yoga than what he had experienced before. When he walked in the door, he fell in love with Lanita and yoga because “everyone here is so welcoming and inclusive and because of how Lanita makes people feel.”

Practicing yoga twice a week soon became part of his routine and it didn’t take long to start noticing changes. “It’s not so much about seeing results as noticing ‘oh I can do this now.’ “Yoga is like peeling layers of an onion,” he says. “You’re just not aware of how many hidden layers there are within.”

Eric’s biggest aha moment was when he was in his car and picked something up without thinking about it, and being surprised he could do it. He says, “At first I couldn’t bend over to pick up a $100 bill. Now I can bend down to pick up a penny!”

Eric’s advice for new students, especially men, is: “Real men need gentle yoga. It is wonderful back and hip care. We need to learn how to slow down, relax, and practice breathing techniques. The inclusiveness of this studio makes everyone feel welcome. Give it time – you won’t see changes overnight, but it will sneak up on you in a good way. You always feel better and more relaxed walking out than walking in.”

You can find Eric in Purple MIMSY classes and Green Restorative classes. In addition to his at least twice weekly yoga practice, Eric helps raise his 2 ½ and 5 ½ yr. old grandsons, and enjoys chasing them around when their mommy is at work. His yoga practice allows him to stay mobile enough to keep up with them.

We are so grateful for Eric’s dedication to our studio – Not only does he continue to donate baby wipes monthly to help our feet stay clean, but he walks in a with a check every month, even when he knows he will be traveling and missing yoga. He says: “My wife tithes every month to the Catholic Church, her Spiritual Center. I give to A Gentle Way. I want you to always be around to help others like me.”

We love you, Eric!
1:56 PM

October Begins The Celebration of Our Students!

A Gentle Way Yoga is celebrating 15 years as a studio this year!

We are honoring our long-time students who have supported us since our inception.

Meet Pat Fox, one of Lanita’s very first students almost 20 years ago - when classes were being taught at a Diet Center, Gyms, Karate Studios, and private homes. Pat is 81 years young, married with two daughters, 8 grandkids and 2 great grandkids.

With a bright twinkle in her blue eyes, she brings total enthusiasm and joy to every class she attends at our studio.

Her advice to new students or anyone who is thinking about coming to A Gentle Way Yoga is, “Come and try it! It saved my life and can make a huge difference in your life.

Pat loved her work at API Behavioral Health as a charge nurse on the chemical dependency unit, but she walked into her first class over-tired, over worked, emotionally and physically exhausted. Her body held major pain from her job as a nurse. Because of lifting patients by herself for many years, “My arms, shoulders and back were wrecked,” she said.

She doesn’t remember exactly how she found us, but she’s so glad she did! She says that yoga changed her life completely and it makes her “joyous, happy and free!”

Pat has been practicing gentle yoga consistently at least twice a week at our studio since that first day, as well as doing water exercise twice a week. She lost 50 pounds (learning to relax), and easily eats much healthier now.

Her preferred type of class at our studio is Purple/Gentle-Moderate MIMSY classes. Her favorite pose is Legs Up The Wall: “ it gets blood flowing to my brain and feels great!”

In addition to her impressive exercise routine, Pat enjoys gardening. Ten years ago she established her yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the Wildlife Habitat Society. She was inspired to transform her yard because of the water shortage in San Diego. She took classes at Cuyamaca College and created drought-resistant landscaping, ponds and blooming flowers and plants for birds, bees and butterflies.

Pat says still has some aches and pains, but yoga keeps her going.

Pat favorite saying is: “I keep moving so I will keep moving.”

Pat is the first person to class, and always provides glowing complements to our teachers after classes. She is very kind to new teachers, and subs, saying there is always something to learn from anyone, and every new teacher needs practice and deserves respect and support.

She says, “Gentle MIMSY Yoga: This is complete, relaxation – you don’t want to leave! It is a mind/body/spirit-everything is connected experience.”

Lanita Varshell
10:03 PM

Diane's Seva Project

Seva is a selfless act of service offered to others; giving of oneself with no need or expectation of receiving anything in return. In nearly every spiritual or religious tradition, initiates are taught the importance of serving others as part of one’s personal path to the Divine. In yoga philosophy any act of seva is considered karma yoga, and it is believed that practicing selflessness allows one to become free from attachment and expectation.

Seva can be any heartfelt altruistic deed, from building homes for the homeless, to something as simple as giving up a seat to a stranger. In addition to being an important part of any spiritual practice, seva is also a way to encourage and develop a thriving community. Through even the humblest act of giving one opens up an equal space for receiving, and a ripple of abundance flows beyond one single person, to the greater society. When generosity abounds, everyone feels a sense of belonging and parity.

I began this year feeling a strong calling to reach out and give something more of myself. My target was our close-knit yoga community, and I actually spent considerable time pondering what acts of kindness might be appropriate for such an awe-inspiring group. I do like to think BIG – but some of my ideas were just downright silly! So, putting grandiose notions aside, I realized that the most obvious plan (duh!) was also the most logical: to randomly select from my cadre of regular students and offer free one-on-one yoga sessions.

My original intention was to pick two students every quarter throughout the year and share with them some of the observations I make during class, and additionally to provide feedback to possible questions regarding her or his overall yoga experience. However, the intention and plans didn’t mesh with my reality, and I was unable to follow through on the quarterly seva idea.

Not one to be discouraged easily, I forged ahead with my main plan, and with the help of Lanita and Michelle, two students were selected earlier this summer: Robin Theilmann and Carol Ryan. Both have since had their sessions with me, and in an effort to connect our greater yoga community together, I am sharing some information about them so that you will be able to connect faces with names when you share a class or pass each other in the studio.


Robin is a fairly recent addition to our AGW family. She began taking group classes after her husband John had been attending classes for some time. (Disclaimer: I’ve known John and Robin for well over 20 years. Michelle picked Robin’s number for me, so it really was a random picking!) Robin retired from her job as a dedicated speech therapist in the Santee School District a few years ago. She currently volunteers weekly at the La Mesa Library bookstore. In addition to being an altogether lovely human being, Robin is a kickass cook! Her desserts are ridiculously delicious and highly coveted! Also, her energy is delightful and is a wonderful addition to every class she attends.

For anyone who doesn’t already know Carol, as soon as you lock eyes with her you’ll never forget her! In addition to being our awesome instructor Sean’s mother (we are so grateful she shared her love of yoga with him!), she is also one of AGW’s longest standing, devoted students. And while she may not have literally attended classes here from day one, she has been a consistent student since year one. On the days she’s not on her yoga mat in one class or another, Carol has a “side job” as a hygienist at a local dentist office. Seriously – unless she’s out of town, working, or spending time with her grandkids, you can find her at the studio multiple times on any given week. Carol’s fun-loving, positive energy is absolutely contagious!

I encourage everyone to get to know these two wonderful ladies next time you’re in a class together, or recognize them out on the street. The energetic and social bonds we make and share in this, our little AGW yoga community, help us build and strengthen our connections to the world at large. And the positive sensations and overall awareness we gain as a community, remind us and those around us, that we all have a place -- because we truly are all in this together! Personally, I look forward to connecting more deeply with as many students as possible, and making at least some small contribution to the greater good.  Namaste!

Lanita Varshell
10:03 AM

April Vows, Family & Love

April is always a special month for me. It is a time to celebrate family,
to renew my vows to the universe, and to begin again anew.

April 3rd was the date that my parents got married. They were married for well over 50 years, and crazy about each other the entire time, even though sometimes they drove each other crazy. My most precious memories of them were when we would take our annual road-trips in our
van. Mom and dad would be singing to each other in the front seat, and making us practice enunciating “how now brown cow” in the back.

April 3rd is also the date that I consciously choose to get baptized in the religion of my birth at the age of 13, and even though I left that religion, I never left my commitment to community service, and spreading the word of the Divine’s love for us, and the help that is always available from the healing energies of heaven and earth. The way I do it now is different now than the way I was taught, but so much more effective and life-changing.

This month I have been thinking about the love in my heart for what I first knew as God ever since I was a child. Long ago I moved away from the religion of my birth and their limited thinking, and even that limited word. Now I look for the Good or Divine in all people, and in all religious and yoga traditions. I focus on letting go of any beliefs that have caused me or others to "suffer" or feel that we are not enough. What I know now is that Love is my Religion and as I felt that deeply today the great Bob Marley's voice led me to get up and dance to his song “Love Is My Religion” all through the day.

This was my yoga today. I have been working on business catch-up and deadlines since 6am, and it is now almost 10pm, but I would keep taking breaks with this song, which you just can’t help dancing to and feeling happy. Soon I will end my work, do a personal practice, and then rest, but all day I have been full of energy, and feel oh so blessed.

My family of choice for almost 20 years has been my yoga friends; fellow students and teachers. My family of birth disowned me long ago, but that is OK. They had their path and I have mine. My parents have both left their physical bodies, and even though they did not believe in life after death or going to heaven, they have clearly communicated with me from above several times, and our relationship is now one of peace and love.

How do I know that the path I am on is the right one for me?
Because of the peace and love I feel when I am with my students and master teachers.
Because of the pain that comes out of my body when I practice and teach.

Because so many students who visit our Center tell me their stories of receiving peace, clarity, and even physical healing at A Gentle Way.

Because I have seen Angels among us as I teach my classes, and are told stories by students of beloved departed ones who visit them during a gentle or restorative class.

Because every time I have cried out to the universe: “How do I keep all this going?” A miracle comes our way. Every time.

What are my new beginnings this spring?

Not being afraid to charge for my years of yoga teaching and therapy experience. Not being afraid of anything anymore.

Not being afraid to get closer to my sweetheart and his family, who is loving, kind, generous, see’s who I really am, and loves me no matter what.

Am I blessed?
Yes I am - and you are too.
You are already DIVINE - there is nothing you need to do but to breathe into your divinity, relax into life, and allow yourself to be guided.
Oh...and a little dancing around the house will do wonders too!

Lanita Varshell
A Gentle Way

A Gentle Way Yoga
8:53 PM

Yoga Alliance - A Place Where Everyone Fits In


 I recently attended a wonderful Yoga Alliance Conference in Indian Wells, California. Yoga Alliance is the national education support organization for Yoga in the United States. They work in the public interest to ensure that Yoga teachers nationwide value the history and traditions of their practice. Their goal is to open source knowledge to the public about yoga and increase the quality and consistency of instruction. Yoga Alliance also accredits yoga schools within the United States, and allows graduates of these programs official standing as “RYT” or “Registered Yoga Teachers.” Visit www.yogaalliance.orgfor more information on this wonderful foundation. 
When yoga alliance was founded in 1999 I chose to attend their first official meeting at the Yoga Journal Conference in San Francisco. I was a brand new yoga teacher at the time, and ecstatic to be apart of a groundbreaking moment in the evolution of yoga in the west. I have to admit that my experience was much different than I expected.
I was by far the largest teacher at the conference. I felt so out of place. I was looking forward to finding other teachers who taught plus size students and networking with them, but I could find none – only beautiful slender men and women floating through the conference halls, some with entire entourages following behind them.
I finally spotted a middle-aged woman who was probably two or three dress sizes below mine. I excitedly ran up to her and introduced myself, asking about her experience working with the plus size population. She seemed almost offended that I would consider her in that category, and coldly responded, “I don’t work with those people. You can’t make a living. They never show up for themselves or the practice.” She walked away offering me no encouragement, obviously offended that I had even mentioned the word plus size in relation to yoga. I felt defeated. My heart sank with despair, and I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing – trying to teach yoga in a plus size body, trying to fit into the yoga world, and trying to run a yoga center that catered to the populations no one else in the yoga world seemed to be serving.
But then something wonderful happened. Amidst a room full of hundreds of gorgeous, fit teachers, a small Indian man dressed in white robes ran up to me with a look of sheer elation painted on his face. He put his arms around me, hugged me joyfully, massaged my belly, and said in the most delightful accent, “Oh, thank God you are here! All these women in America are so skinny! Here is my most beautiful woman!”
His words relit my spirit. He instilled in me the courage to stand up in that first Yoga Alliance meeting and assert to the board that the standards for registered yoga were so physically challenging that someone like me couldn’t teach yoga. I refused to believe that because my body could and should not perform a sun salutation meant that I’m unable to be an exceptional yoga teacher.
So here I am now with 17 years experience and over 10,000 classes taught under my belt. At this year’s conference I no longer stuck out like a sore thumb. The conference was filled with teachers and students of all sizes, ages, colors and traditions. Some of the “popular” teachers of yoga back in the 90’s were now older, larger, and teaching “new” techniques that I’ve been faithfully practicing and teaching for 16 years. One of the “plus size” teachers that Damara and I had trained back in 2000 was there, looking 10 years younger than she did in 2000, happily telling me she had moved to Kentucky and now opened her own Yoga Studio!
There is no happier feeling for me as a Studio owner than to sit at the front desk of A Gentle Way Yoga and Joyful Movement Center and see people from all walks of life come through our doors and experience a yoga practice that is joyful, loving, and without judgment. And here we are, still training students to teach yoga, students that now travel to us from all over the world!
If you are looking for a great teacher outside of San Diego, visit If you are a yoga teacher who is not yet a part of this organization, please join today!
This is an organization you will all want to be a part of.

A Gentle Way Yoga
7:08 PM

Autumnal yoga to balance the change of seasons

~ Diane Ambrosini
Been feeling a bit scatterbrained and fidgety lately? With the blazing temperatures we’ve had recently, you might want to place all of the blame for your discomfort on the weather. However, while the heat may be agitating, much of this edginess is due to the earth passing into its seasonal shift on September 22nd - the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. Even as thermometers are still hollering “summertime,” the fall equinox brings a subtle change to the air, and an emerging shift in our personal and hemispheric energy patterns.
By Ayurveda standards, autumn is considered the Vata season. Vata energy is associated with the elements of space, air and movement, which make sense, since fall weather generally presents drier, windier conditions. Think of the bone-dry Santa Ana winds that bluster through San Diego this time of year! Internally, vata energy is associated with our body’s nervous system and when out of balance is the cause of the frenetic energy that creates prickly attitudes and makes it difficult to produce focused thoughts. Also on a physical level, this is the time of year many of us notice drier, rougher skin and a few more pops and cracks in our joints.
To balance out this super-charged energy, we need to focus on getting more grounded, calm and balanced. So, just as we changed our yoga practice when spring turned to summer, we now need to flow with the season and switch up our asana practice once again. At this time we need to modify any overly kinetic yoga practices, because vata energy can very easily become chaotic.
To promote more stability and serenity in our practice, if we normally practice a flowing vinyasa, it’s important to slow down the pace. Exhausting ourselves only makes us crankier! And, by practicing more standing poses, especially balancing poses, we increase the focus on our foundation and gain more overall stability. If we hold our poses just a little longer we experience a feeling of earth-centeredness, which on a psychological level is reassuring – we don’t feel “flighty.” Practicing “groundedness” draws the mind inward and calms the nervous system.
By practicing slower moving, meditative restorative yoga, Iyengar-style or Yin yoga we tend to experience a deeper feeling of sthira (stability). Yin poses also have the added benefit of bringing attention, and more relief to the deeper connective tissues within and around the joints.
Other poses to add to our fall practice are twists, inversions and easy backbends. The wringing action of any twist is calming to the spinal nerves and also stimulates the digestive system, which oftentimes gets stagnant in the fall and leads to indigestion, bloating and other intestinal disorders. Inversions help to focus frenzied energy back toward the earth, giving a deeper feeling of support. Backbending poses open the chest area and can build up a bit of internal heat, which is very beneficial as the warmer temperatures of early fall cool off.  
Making pranayama (breathing practices) a habitual part of our yoga practice promotes a more restful nature overall. Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is said to clear out and relax the deep, subtle energy channels within the body. And ujjayi breathing deepens the breath and, like backbends, warms the body as it pacifies an agitated nervous system.
Another extremely satisfying fall ritual is regular full-body self-massage (abhyanga) with warmed oil. This practice is beneficial throughout the year, but during the drying autumnal months, the moisturizing effects of the oil are even more healing to dry skin, and the massaging action is comforting to our cracking joints. By adding some scent to the oils, we create a sweet in-home spa treatment! Add a cup of tea, and it's Nirvana!
So, as the wild winds blow and the air gets static charged, we can turn to our “fall focused” yoga practice as a pacifying daily routine. By tweaking our asanas to be more grounded and centering, we can more easily flow with the rhythms of the earth during this time of change.

A Gentle Way Yoga
6:37 PM

Prana - in a nutshell ~ Diane Ambrosini

It’s a word you’ve heard before, but you might not know its true significance. Yes, Prana is the name of a yoga/active-wear clothing line, as well as a lovely yoga studio in La Jolla. But what are these businesses named after?
To grasp what prana is, we must ask the question “What makes us alive?” Like the age-old questions “Why are we here?” and “What is my purpose in life?” the issue of what makes us alive can be quite a head scratcher! And, because there is no way to see or measure prana, how do we know it really exists? 
Think life-force energy. Many people believe that if an organism breathes, grows and/or moves, it is infused with a non-physical quality of energy, which is the essential ingredient for life. Some call this energy ‘the Spirit of God”, “chi”, “ka”, “mana”, “élan vital”. The yogis call this quintessence by its Sanskrit name, “prana.”
So what does this prana energy do? Philosophical mind-benders aside, most can agree that there are definite energy systems at work within a living entity. Chemical impulses send signals with messages that build up and break down tissues, create respiration and other bodily functions, and in the case of animated beings, movement. And, while you can’t see it, there is no denying that every living thing has an innate energy within it.
In yoga, prana is often associated solely with the breath through the practice of pranayama, which is loosely categorized as breathing techniques. Prana is not the actual air we breathe, nor does air actually transport prana, yet asana and pranayama help us control and direct the movement of pranic energy throughout the body.
Yogic wisdom maintains that within the human body there are over seventy-two- thousand energy channels called nadis that, like small tributaries, feed pranic energy into three main prana channels: the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. These three key nadis are located to the left, right and center, respectively, of the spine and direct the primary flow of energy throughout the body.   
The main purpose of practicing hatha yoga and pranayama is to balance the Ida’s cool, loving, feminine energy with the Pingala’s heated, intense, masculine energy. As these two oppositional energies meld together in harmony, a person’s deep-seated spiritual energy begins to rise from the base of the Sushumna toward the crown of the head. Balanced prana leads to physical, mental and spiritual states of ecstasy.
That’s quite a lot of action for something that can’t be seen! But no matter, because everyone can feel, if not see its existence. All the rhythmic functions of the body, from the heartbeat to the flow of the breath—as well as moments of absolute clarity and seemingly pointless flashes of bliss—are all signs that prana is present. And looking out beyond our own bodies, we can definitely see evidence of prana in nature. So take some time, sit quietly and tune into the tingling flow of prana pulsating through you, connecting you to the rest of the living Universe.

A Gentle Way Yoga
12:38 PM

Meditation Movement: The Yoga I always dreamed of – Lanita Varshell

Dreams of Being

Not coming from an exercise background, if you are a yoga teacher, or yoga addict, when you first meet me you may wonder what in the world I have to teach you that you do not already know.  Having always been chubby in my youth, and always a large woman, you may initially look at me and conclude yoga has not worked for me.
But if you are willing to spend more time with me, if you are willing to not run away from my style of teaching, you just may discover “a softer side of yoga” that is changing the lives of hundreds of yoga students each year.
When I was introduced to yoga, there were very few teachers modifying it for the needs of the, larger, older, or less physically able students.  When I was introduced to the slow, relaxing floor style of yoga we now call MIMSY - Meditation in Movement Style Yoga, I knew that my first teacher, Naomi Judith, had discovered something very special:
That when you relax before you begin to stretch, balance, twist and sweat, our bodies do not resent being moved.  Movement becomes joyful, dancelike, welcome, and healing.
At first I thought that this MIMSY would only attract larger women like myself, but soon they began bringing their more fit friends, and husbands, and those who were used to traditional active poses soon realized that this slower, softer side of yoga was a great missing link to a fully balanced yoga practice.
Sixteen years later, and thousands of classes later, the effects of MIMSY just keep getting better. As we lie on the floor, relaxing the body, and then slowly moving every different way, there seems to be a channeling that moves through me, leading each class into many similar poses, but still customized for those who attend.
After each class, someone will just sit there, not wanting to get up and say:  “how did you know that was exactly what I needed today?”  And that is how we know it is yoga.  Union with ourselves.  Poses that are steady, comfortable, and healing.

~Lanita Varshall

Here is what a few of our students have to say:
"BEST THING I EVER DID FOR MYSELF! I spent a week in July 2011 at Feathered Pipe Ranch with Lanita Varshell for a yoga retreat and Plus Size Teacher Training. It was such an amazing, peaceful, healing time. The heaven on earth beauty of the ranch, the great staff, the incredible food, yoga every day and the wonderful people you meet makes for such an incredible break from our busy lives. This is the most perfect place to experience Lanita's unique, gentle yoga and meditation. She creates such a healing, safe, non-judgmental environment for everyone to practice her style of yoga, which will relax and rejuvenate you from head to toe.
It may be the hardest yoga you've done because you have to completely let your body go and allow yourself to relax and release. (A hard thing to do for those of us so wound up with tension, busy, demanding lives and the monkey mind that never stops.) You will feel as if you had a massage after taking her classes. I highly recommend you do this for yourself - it will truly renew your heart and soul. I hope to come back every year, it's the best gift I can give my mind, body and spirit.

~Jackie Anderson

My first introduction to Lanita Varshell as a teacher was at a retreat last summer at Feathered Pipe Ranch. It was nothing less than a trans-formative experience for me. More than twenty years ago I had been a practitioner and teacher of Himalayan/Iyengar yoga.  Since then I had gained a lot of weight and only in the last two years started to practice yoga again on a regular basis, but felt too intimidated to take yoga classes at the studios where I live.
I found an ad in the Yoga International listing Lanita Varshell as a gentle yoga teacher who also taught a certification in plus size yoga.  I felt something inside of me say, "Yes!" I was very excited and afraid of going at the same time, afraid of being judged for my more than plus sized body.
Lanita had a way of immediately making me feel not only safe, but at home in the body that I have.  There were no judgments, only an awakening of the beautiful spirit that was so lovingly and gently coaxed out in my time with her as my teacher.  Lanita has an intuitive style of teaching that just allows everyone to simply be in there body and let go of layer upon layer of feelings that are stored in our bodies to be integrated with our minds and our spirits.  It helped me find a balance and a deep sense of peace with which I have since been able to take care of others and my students that I now teach, thanks to Lanita's encouragement. I would recommend this retreat to everyone, whether you are new to yoga, or an experienced teacher.

~Carol Radke

Lanita doesn’t “teach yoga” in the traditional sense. Meditation in Movement is less a yoga class than a deep experience. You cease fighting gravity as you lie on your back. You release tension from parts of your body you had no idea you were clenching. You open yourself to waves of relaxation and invite the body’s innate healing wisdom to do its work.
Now you can move. Now you can move muscles that were too tight to move with ease or pleasure when you came in the door. Now you can stretch those muscles and enjoy the stretch. You’re moving slowly, mindfully, and with the breath, so your movement feels natural. You go to your first place of tightness and then ease back instead of pushing an edge. On the physical level, this gives tight muscles a chance to loosen gradually. On the mental level, this calms fear and resistance because you know you will not go too far and injure yourself.
Meditation in Movement is not about how much you can do but about how much you can let go of. As the body releases tension, the mind gives up its need for control.  As breath and movement work to shift energy in the body, the spirit lifts.
When I first began taking these classes with Lanita over ten years ago, I thought we weren’t doing enough. I wondered where the Warrior poses were. Then I came to see that the impact of Meditation in Movement style yoga was a profound change in the way I inhabited my body. I reconnected with it on a deep level and I felt more integrated, body, mind, and spirit. This yoga will change your life. It changed mine.
~Carolyn Wheat, ERYT-500


The practice of yoga has brought greater ease to my body and calm to my mind. There was just one area that still brought forth a hot little seed of frustration and disappointment - the fact that most classes were still targeted toward to people who were already perceived as flexible and fit.
The pace was too fast.  Modifications were not offered to people with structural variations or recovering from injury or years of neglect. The risk of injury was high. This yoga was clearly NOT available to Every Body.
Lanita's approach to yoga is completely inclusive. It is the kind of yoga that you hoped to find the first time you gathered the immense courage it takes to step into your first yoga class - worried that you might look foolish or be judged by others. There is no "failure" in Lanita's teaching. Only support, ease, calm and acceptance. What you learn here will not only make you feel comfortable and safe, but it will give you tools to make the practice truly your own. I cannot recommend this workshop highly enough.

~Cindy Davis

Lanita will return to the Feathered Pipe Ranch this summer, Sept. 1 - 7th for the retreat, We are Limitless: A Gentle Way Yoga Retreat. Save $100 & accrue retreat credits for your Studio/Organization...Feathered Pipe's Community Discount Program!!!

Lanita Varshell

Lanita Varshell is the owner of A Gentle Way Yoga & Joyful Movement Center in San Diego (La Mesa) California, and is the founder of “Meditation in Movement Style ® Gentle Yoga. She has been interviewed in several magazines about her plus-size journey through yoga, including Yoga Journal, and Bella Online. She has produced a Gentle Yoga class CD, is working on her first books and DVD’s, and leads yearly Gentle Yoga Retreats in California and throughout the US. She trains students and certified yoga teachers in her Gentle Yoga, Restorative, and Adaptive Yoga methods. To find out more about Lanita and her incredible work visit:

A Gentle Way Yoga
9:30 AM

"Should you change your yoga practice during the summer months?" By Diane Ambrosini MA, ERYT-500

Should you change your yoga practice during the summer months?
As the temperature on the thermometer begins its slow upward shift in mid-June, I’m often asked if it’s important to modify one’s yoga practice during the summer months. Based on Ayurvedic philosophy, the answer is, “Yes.”
Ayurveda is the Sanskrit term meaning science of life. It is the sister science of yoga. Traditional Ayurvedic wisdom states that during the Pitta months, between June and the end of September (OK, mid-October in San Diego), the heat and more concentrated energy of the sun dominates the season and motivates all life on Earth toward increased movement and productivity.
Think about it—with more daylight hours and the intensity of summer’s energy we see new generations of animals covering the landscape, gardens growing prolifically, and we humans are generally motivated to increase our physical activities. We tend to travel more and attempt more projects at this time of the year, as well as spend more time outside with friends and family. And for those of us living in communities near the beach, the summer heat is a driving force toward the cooler breezes of the waterfront. Ahhhh!
Ok, so what does all this have to do with changing our yoga practice? Well, because we’re all susceptible to the rhythms of Nature, as the sun gets higher in the sky, a rise in Pitta energy brings more heat into the body and mind. If we aren’t mindful of these changes, we can experience disagreeable physical and emotional side effects like sunburn, heat rash, aggression, anger and irritability.
It’s important to remain physically active because exercise literally blows off steam, even in the summertime. It is, however, essential either to curtail most overly heating activities, or to balance them out with activities having more calming properties. And we all know that yoga is a perfect activity for this!
<spanThose who typically practice vigorous, heat producing styles of hatha yoga need to balance the dynamic nature of these styles with some of the more restorative practices. Instead of a constant diet of brown and red classes here at A Gentle Way, drop in to a few pink, purple, green and blue classes. And for those with a solid home practice, do fewer standing poses and heat producing postures like headstand and sun salutations— and be sure to add a longer savasana.
For anyone who has never taken a brown or red class, it’s still possible to add more relaxing practices to your day. Try to spend some additional time in meditation, which cools and calms both mind and body. Additionally, you can cool down your body by practicing cooling breathing techniques such as shitali, (cooling breath), or “moon breathing,”- where you simply close off the right nostril and breathe through the left for a minute or so.
No matter what changes you make to your asana practice this summer remember to focus on finding calmness, peacefulness and gentleness within yourself and those around you. And don’t forget – after September you can count on another shift in your practice as you follow the rhythms of Nature!