Talk & Discussion with Jen-Mitsuke Peters, MA Saturday, June 13, 2020 8am–L.A. 9am–DENVER! 11am–N.Y.C.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED– Recording available for 24 hours if you can’t make it live!
Investment: Optional Donation to the organization you feel is doing the most now for the BIPOC community
In this 75-90-minute gathering, Jen will give a brief talk on Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead” and share some initial thoughts on how vulnerability can be practiced on the mat. We will then expand on these ideas in the group.
No preparation is required, however, you might like to read the book or check out Brene’s Netflix special “Call to Courage.” You might like to contemplate times in your life where vulnerability opened you up for special connection and action that you didn’t feel was possible for you ever before.
This will be a space where participants are invited to be as vulnerable as feels right for them. This will be a space where we don’t have to show up having all the answers, being perfect, or expecting to say all the right things. This will be a space for growth and inspiration so that we can each cultivate the courage to find the depths of our personhood. From such a place the most skillful action arises.
If you would like to delve much deeper into this material in June, my new course Home Practice BLAST-OFF! will go into great detail about the nervous system, yoga technique, and how the practice can help us tune up and stay regulated to be our best self in this time of global crisis and opportunity. The course starts Tuesday, June 9th, and early bird ends Monday at noon.
Wishing you could go on a tropical yoga retreat, but have to stay home and work? Join the club. Get more benefit and less food poisoning by joining Jiyu (the teacher) and me (your dedicated fellow practitioner) for one or more 5-weekday morning self-practice retreats at our home in Denver! (Can’t pull off 5 days in a row? Jiyu and I still want you to have a taste of the delicious nectar of this experience, so we have devised drop-in or 5-pack experiences for students we have worked with in the past. We just ask that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the protocol laid out here so that the flow is not interrupted for those of us already in the groove.)
I was listening to neuroscientist Richie Davidson in an interview lately, and he mentioned how much more potent retreat practice is for making modifications to brain structure and function. I have felt this on my many extended retreats. Although we will not be secluding ourselves for long periods, we will nonetheless propel ourselves into full potential mode with this amazing morning routine, providing a combination of the most potent practices plus a warm and friendly community vibe that we feel is essential for most of us to experience optimal benefit.
The mini-retreats will take place weekdays from Monday June 3rd through Friday July 12th. Start your day with a brief puja and shamanic invocations to sanctify and empower the space for healing, then dedicated time for kriya and asana, tea with friends, 3 kinds of meditation and pranayama! I have developed this schedule based on recommendations from my principal teachers Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, Jennifer Hinton & Patrice Bazile as well as my own long-term practice and the scientific research on healing and neuroplasticity.
I am looking so forward to doing this that I am sure it will be my best summer ever! And Jiyu is sure it will be his best yet as well (after all it is his first)! Be prepared to relish some puppy kisses as Jiyu matures in his teaching role. In that regard, his ideas of trauma-informed adjustments are a little different than mine, and once in a while you might end up with a dog and/or bone on your mat, but he gives paws-on assists (like those in the photos) only with your explicit consent and very careful direction! Usually he aids you by his fantastic demonstrations of care-free relaxation. 🙂
The 6 available self-practice retreats are Monday-Friday (no moon days observed). If you are not able to make it every day that is up to you, though I would encourage you to think of this as a special opportunity to practice more consistently and intensely than you may normally be able to do. You may sign up for any number of weeks:
5:55am Morning Puja
6:30am Zazen Meditation*
6:45 Metta Meditation*
6:55 Competent Protector Meditation*
7:00 Ashtanga Invocation, Kriya & Asana
8:57am 4-minute Quiet Meditation*
9:01am Utplutih & Group Savasana*
9:15am Closing Chant & Tea with Friends
*Please do not come or go during the silent periods (6:30-7:00 or after 8:55).
Morning Puja: We will delineate our sacred space through the invocation of the King of the Nagas, the ultimate support, invite Ganesh to have a seat in our sacred space, and then call in benevolent spirits from the 4 directions and 3 realms to be with us and bring their wisdom, compassion, skillful means, guidance, help, healing and curative energies while we practice together.
Pranayama: If you have been given a breathing practice by a competent teacher, please feel free to do it. If not, you can schedule a private lesson with me live or on Skype to develop one, or you could download Richard Freeman’s Yoga Breathing (2 CD/ MP3 set) onto your phone and bring earphones to do CD 1 or 2 with him. (The first 3 practices take about 30 minutes and would be a great start for anybody who is new to pranayama. You can do them sitting up or laying down.)
Zazen Meditation (15 min): This is seated (or standing if needed) meditation on breath and posture. If you have your own silent meditation practice, you are welcome to do that during this time.
Metta Meditation (10 min): This is compassion meditation, which has the potential to very deeply change our way of relating in the world. If you are familiar with this practice, implement your favorite method. Otherwise a script will be included in the chant download.
Competent Protector Meditation (5 min): This exercise is meant to restore healthy attachment, which is a prerequisite for most all forms of healing. It has been recommended by neuroscientists, trauma therapists and shamanic healers alike. You will visualize a real or imaginary being capable of providing you with protection, support, companionship, wisdom, warmth, and all else that you need. You will bask in the feelings associated with that support in order to retrain the nervous system to feel safe and cared for, which will allow your own innate healing mechanisms and life talents to gain a stronger foothold in this universe.
Kriya & Asana: Kriyas you might want to practice before coming include skin brushing, oil pulling (swishing sesame or coconut oil in the mouth for 5-20min–do NOT swallow!) during your shower (possibly warm with a 30-second cold rinse at the very end to invigorate the nervous system), salt water flush, or while here, kapalabhati and uddiyana bandha kriya… (Need a brush-up or want to learn more? Schedule a lesson with me live or on Skype. For those signed up for a mini-retreat, I am offering a 50% discount on private lessons.)
You will be encouraged to enter finishing postures (following backbending) with 20 minutes remaining. These are some of the most detoxing and rejuvenating postures when we take our time with them. If not inverting, you are of course welcome to do restoratives, etc., just as you are welcome to make the rest of the practice your own. I have slings and every prop I’ve ever seen available for your enjoyment.
We will sit for 4 minutes following the yoga mudra/ujjayi postures prior to utplutih. At this point in the practice it feels most natural to sit quietly. We will then reap the benefits of a nice long savasana.
Tea with Friends (15 min): Time for satsang (spiritual company), a light snack if you want to bring one, and fun with the puppy. I will need to get ready for work by 9:30.
INVESTMENT & REGISTRATION–
Each week will cost $50, or if you want to go all-out, you can sign up for all 6 weeks for the discounted price of $250. There will be no refunds for missed days, and if you register but then cancel within 48 hours of your start date, you will still be responsible to pay for the week. You must register by reading and signing this form by Sunday 12-noon prior to the week you intend to practice in order to ensure that there is room. You will then get the exact address (near Water World, 84th & Pecos) and final details from me.
For those unable to book a full week, drop-ins are available for $25/day, 2x/week for $40, or if you plan on coming 5 or more times this summer, you may purchase a 5-pack for $85 upfront, good through July 12th. No refunds. Please follow the protocol above, registering by noon on Sunday before the week you first wish to attend so that I have time to plan and send you the infos.
Jiyu and I are looking forward to practicing with you!!! 🙂
Awaken the healing potential of your practice by combining ancient wisdom with modern neuroscience & psychotherapy.
I’m thrilled to be offering this training again this spring as a synthesis of my counseling MA project, my extensive background in neuroscience, 15 years of yoga teaching experience, and my own journey getting the most out of spiritual practices despite trauma and chronic illness. This is an all-level workshop meant for Ashtangis looking to practice smart.
Leading psychologists and neuroscientists agree that nearly all of us (whether we recognize it or not) are living with at least some degree of trauma, a condition stemming from overwhelm that has been linked to both distress and disease. Fortunately, yoga interventions based on cutting-edge clinical treatments have been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (Price et al., 2017), and as trauma resolves, people often find a redoubled sense of vitality and purpose. As Ashtanga yoga practitioners, we have a potent set of techniques at our fingertips, but unless we inquire deeply into the theories, attitudes and interpersonal interactions surrounding these practices, we are not likely to reap maximal benefit from our daily efforts, especially when trauma is present.
In this workshop, we will explore key concepts in trauma healing and examine how we can immediately apply them to our practice. We will consider how the practice environment and student-teacher relationships exert a tremendous impact on the nervous system. We will study the fundamental features of trauma physiology and gain awareness of how our intentions and actions may be perpetuating or alleviating trauma in ourselves and others. Most exciting of all, we will investigate where Ashtanga technologies (such as bandha, mudra and chanting) fit in alongside some of the most ground-breaking trauma theories available.
This workshop is best suited for curious vinyasa yoga practitioners and teachers with any level of experience and proficiency. Clinicians who are looking to bring yoga into their practices in a deeper way are also welcome, though some familiarity with the Ashtanga Vinyasa method is recommended. All asana work will be gentle and adaptable to individual circumstance. Although sharing will never be forced, there will be opportunities to engage in partner exercises and group discussion. Please note that this training is not intended to treat trauma, nor are participants encouraged to work outside of their professional Scope of Practice. Resolution of severe trauma may require a multifaceted approach, a pivotal part of which may be a careful yoga practice.
Jen-Mitsuke Peters holds a BA from Columbia University in Neuroscience & Behavior, an MA in Psychology/Neuroplasticity from Princeton University and an MA in Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling from Naropa University. She has practiced with and assisted her principal Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga teachers Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor for over 2100 hours in addition to training extensively in other yoga styles and therapeutic modalities. Her own experiences with trauma and chronic illness have awakened both her passion for healing and her deep trust in the transformative power of compassionate and mutually beneficial relationships. She has been teaching yoga internationally since 2005 and is a registered psychotherapist and coach in private practice in Denver, CO. Please contact Jen with any questions or concerns.
Schedule for the Weekend (May 17-19, 2019) Location is near Water World at 84th & Pecos in Denver
Each session will include a mix of theory, practice/experiential and discussion. Check out Testimonials for an idea of what students gained during a similar training last summer.
Investment: $325 (Early Bird Discount of $50 if paid in full by April 15th)
To register, please submit a registration email introducing yourself and your background and pay Jen through PayPal at email@example.com. Once these steps are completed you will receive an email with further details. Looking forward to this!
TIAVY (Trauma Informed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga) seeks to foster mutually-beneficial & transformative relationships between teachers & students, as well as to connect all members of the international community with inspiring, empowering & ever-evolving sources of wisdom & healing. Seeking first not to cause harm (as so many spiritual lineages including Ashtanga unfortunately have in the past), we are inspired by modern neuroscience and trauma treatment modalities to practice in ways that foster healing and thriving.
Trauma affects us all in so many different ways. It might show up as an inability to perform a certain movement in our yoga practice or manifest as sleeplessness, headaches, or autoimmune disease… Trauma is not restricted to survivors of horrific atrocities. In fact, our nervous systems may become overwhelmed and we may begin to accumulate it anytime we feel a lack of support, even in everyday situations. By nature trauma is quite slippery: the body buries it when we lack the resources to digest it fully, and the latest research demonstrates that we also amass it under circumstances of oppression and inherit it from previous generations, so many people are in complete denial even though they may be carrying a significant trauma load. I can’t think of ANYBODY I’ve ever met who would not benefit from possessing a better understanding of trauma. It is a pivotal and missing exploration, equally for people suffering from physical and/or mental afflictions to those looking to optimize their already-brilliant performance to super-human levels.
Further, I have come to believe that practicing yoga without an understanding of trauma is yet another inadvertent form of spiritual bypassing that can be quite dangerous. Although pure awareness dissolves many kinds of samskaras (conditioning), research has demonstrated that traumatic conditioning often requires special treatment, including a safe environment and the compassionate presence of another being in order to allow the nervous system to rest in particular zones of activation. Unfortunately, whether due to lack of informed consent, excessive use of force, well-intentioned ignorance, outright abuse, or techniques that can trigger dissociation, dysregulation or injury, yoga classes are often very unsafe places that actually exacerbate trauma. How many times have we seen practitioners and teachers pass on their unresolved trauma to countless others through acts of gross or subtle violence? Our own trauma also puts us at greater risk of being manipulated and further harmed by such violence. It’s about time we all start taking trauma seriously and create a revolutionary space within which global healing can commence.
The brilliant framework of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga adapted to the individual as I learned it from my principal teacher Richard Freeman forms a base from which additional modalities can be implemented as appropriate. Having practiced Ashtanga as well as many other forms of yoga and meditation around the world since 2003, and studied with and assisted Richard and his partner Mary Taylor for over 2100 hours, I have experienced how the practice, practice environment and practice philosophy have contributed both to my illness and healing. I aim to elucidate both sides in my blog, as well as to share the rich variety of resources I have accumulated while struggling with trauma and an incapacitating biotoxin illness for over a decade.
TIAVY was the subject of my MA thesis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a focus in Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University. It has been my all-consuming interest over the past 6 years, enriched by 9 years of previous study and research in Neuroscience at Columbia University, Princeton University, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) & Max-Planck Institute. I am now engaging in PhD research in Depth Psychology with a concentration in Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
My motivation for delving ever-deeper into academia has been to develop a grounded Trauma Informed Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga (TIAVY), a style that can evolve with my own learning and the experience of interdisciplinary practitioners, scientists and healers willing to look again and again at what is truly beneficial. A large part of what I teach is psycho-educational. Yoga texts are often metaphorical in their descriptions of possible results, and generally address renunciate practitioners in a very different context than ours. When we are simply asked to believe that certain methodologies will work for us in our own lives, we are robbed of asking how, and we are likely to fail to optimize the effects by fostering misplaced impressions of where to focus. My personal opinion is that unhealthy fixations quite often dominate traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa circles, where obedience and deference override discernment and relationship.
We are seeing epic levels of devastation, from the tiniest microbes to Planet Earth as a whole. We are being faced with dark and frightening truths about members of our species and even those teachers and sangha members we have most admired, trusted and loved. For those of us who do not want to cause ourselves or others continued pain, it is time to question every single one of the traditions we uphold and habits we enact, to acknowledge what is not acceptable (for example the physical, emotional and sexual abuse perpetrated by the father of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Pattabhi Jois, in addition to so many other well-known and lesser-known teachers), to come forth in support of victims and survivors of all kinds (not forgetting that perpetrators and enablers also fall into these categories), and to develop more effective and inclusive teaching and practice frameworks.
Perhaps most importantly, it is up to us to do the difficult yet not impossible integrative personal work that many “gurus” never did, relying instead on whatever technical prowess, transcendent clarity and/or charisma they may have possessed. Although many of the practices we have inherited from them may be enormously valuable, they do not necessarily stand alone and must be done in the right contexts with conscious intentions and a richer understanding of how our bodies and nervous systems work. Our generation has access to ground-breaking discoveries that can only add to the wisdom and skillful means from lineages of the past. We cannot blindly rely on the methods handed down to us. We must constantly reassess what we hope to gain and whether we feel we are headed in the right direction.
Every serious practitioner I know has suppressed various “uh-oh” feelings in favor of other-worldly promises of a far-off kind of salvation or enlightenment that we do not recognize as our present experience. Whereas we must be patient with ourselves and know that the change we seek does not happen overnight (and probably not even in multiple thousands of lifetimes), we must also be true to our internal alert system that tells us when spiritual jargon is being used within an injurious power structure or keeping us from being motivated by powerful emotions that could propel us to work in the world as a necessary force of evolution. Our best selves are needed. How do we want to show up in this world? Have we fallen into a rut of wishful thinking with our spiritual practices or are we truly doing what most touches our hearts and uplifts others? Is it possible that in following a guru or system we have forgotten our powerful ability to lead and come to our own insightful conclusions? We could perpetuate a privileged patriarchal culture or we could look into the truth about the harm it has caused and act to reverse it.
If our practices do not shed direct light on our interconnectedness and immediately begin to positively impact our interactions with all beings around us, then they contribute to the downward spiral that certainly affects our quality of life and in fact threatens our very survival. For the first time in my own practice, I am getting to the bottom of trauma that has been disabling for me, and for the first time in my career, I am thrilled to teach, because I have finally found a way to share yoga that feels authentic, intelligent and nurturing for me and my students. Let’s investigate together how to prevent future suffering as Patanjali, Buddha and so many others have recommended, and use our talents and intelligence to change the course of history for the better!
3-Workshop Ashtanga Vinyasa Polarity Series
Saturdays 8:30am-11:00am in Denver
October 27, 2018 — Krama/Vikrama: Standing, Balancing & Inverting
November 3, 2018 — Prana/Apana: Forward Bending & Hip Opening
November 10, 2018 — Ida/Pingala: Twisting & Backbending
Investment: $135 for the series Please pay in full via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot!
I’m excited to offer this series of 3 Saturday morning workshops in Denver (location disclosed after registration), each detailing a different set of yogic polarities and focusing on a different category of asana. Each class will build on the previous one and address methodologies that are difficult to learn in other class formats, including basic pranayama in support of the theme of the day.
This series is intended for students with a vinyasa yoga practice, who are interested in deepening their understanding of external forms, the internal forms of breath and bandha, yoga philosophy and its intersection with psychology and neuroscience. Students can expect to gain skill, confidence and benefit from practice like never before. So get your yoga on early and have the rest of your Saturday to enjoy other fall activities!
In case you’re considering enrolling in one of my 200-hour teacher trainings in 2019 (more details coming soon), this would be a great way to sample my teaching style, and as an added incentive, those taking this series can apply $50 towards tuition!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Looking forward to seeing you there 🙂
I’m thrilled to be offering a weekly mini-workshop followed by satsang as well as 2 new Mysore classes! I’ve been looking forward to sharing in this kind of teaching format for years and feel so grateful for the opportunity. Please see Group Classes for schedules. See you there — Ashtanga Yoga Denver 🙂 Class descriptions:
Ashtanga Smorgasbord is a detail- and fun-oriented mini-workshop with a unique focus every week featuring postures with relevant variations drawn from the traditional series for exploration and adventure. Each well-rounded session will delve into breath, bandha, alignment and attitude that together open the door to an asana practice that increasingly encompasses all 8 limbs of the Ashtanga system. Ancient yoga scriptures assert that when we keep our attention in the core of the body mixing technique and counter-technique “to taste,” we unleash nothing short of a flood of nectar, so come on an empty stomach, ready for feasting! This is a perfect way to reinvigorate and intensify your existing Mysore or other vinyasa practice while tailoring it intelligently and compassionately to your body and life circumstances. Some experience recommended.
Satsang is a gathering intended to foster a sense of community and provide space for inquiry into contemplative practices, their contexts and their integration into our everyday lives. We will begin each session with some silence followed by chanting, kirtan and/or instruction and discussion based on pertinent texts and topics brought up by the group. Practice takes us into realms where interdisciplinary study can be enriching, venturing anywhere from Neuroscience to Psychotherapy to the Arts. Keeping good company is said to be one of the most powerful means to deepen spiritual practice. By sharing our enthusiasm as well as our challenges, we will build skills and discover support to access our most authentic Self and bring that realization into the world. All are welcome, free of charge.
Mysore combines the very best aspects of private instruction (individualized attention and customization of the practice to meet your needs and goals), group classes (energy and inspiration gained from practicing in the companionship of others), and home practice (focused attention and personal accountability for your own path). Students go at their own pace under the supervision of the instructor, arriving when they wish and finishing by the end time listed. Six series entice us with unending challenges glimmering on the horizon while real life intervenes with plenty of opportunities to let go and learn to work with the inevitable obstacles and beautiful realities of embodiment. No experience necessary.
Richard assisting me in laghu vajrasana in 2011. Photo by Chris Croft
“The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections. Recovery can take place only in the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connections with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy. Just as these capabilities are originally formed in relationships with other people, they must be reformed in such relationships.” — Judith Herman in Trauma and Recovery
The importance of the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy has long been recognized. It has been purported to be the single biggest factor (or even the only necessary and sufficient factor) contributing to positive treatment outcomes for a variety of problems and disorders. How many of us feel a bit disempowered and disconnected from others? This is often why we turn to therapy or to yoga. We could all benefit from profound and selfless relationship, which is not so easy to come by in this world.
Such relationships seem to be growing more and more scarce in the yoga world as it becomes less and less “cool” to accept a guru or make any commitment to study with somebody who is truly qualified to teach. In its popularized form yoga is seen as yet another fitness and fashion craze, and its ultimate goal (Self-realization and rediscovery of interconnectedness, the very opposite of disempowerment and disconnection) is forgotten. Considerable disillusionment comes from having watched so many apparently advanced teachers succumb to the basest scandals. However, instead of jumping on board and behaving abhorrently or losing faith altogether, teachers and students might deeply ponder the gravity of the role and do their best to uphold the highest standards.
It is well-established that memories are stored somatically, so when we work with the body in yoga, we have the potential, to a greater or lesser extent, to re-awaken traumatic experiences and relive them to some degree. Even if we consider ourselves to be in the fortunate minority of people who have experienced no dramatic or excruciating trauma, we still carry with us whatever we have encountered throughout our development during at least one lifetime! The choice of who will share this very intimate practice space with us while we undergo these processes is quite a sacred one.
When you fold into that hip-opener and associations with your X or difficult family members bubble up (explicitly or not), it would be ideal if the teacher would not reenact those old pathological scenarios and behavior patterns, reinforcing them in your system! How terrible (and re-traumatizing) is it to feel unsafe, abandoned or subject to compounded injury and negativity in times of vulnerability…?! How incredible would it be to share with somebody who supports you and sees your highest potential and reminds you of it in that moment? A present being can often help us to face difficult feelings with more mindfulness than we can alone. What a gift, to progressively work out ticks and misconceptions that we have adopted strategically in order to survive, but which build up those very barriers that alienate us from what we truly desire! Sharing even one instant in true relationship with a genuinely compassionate being can reconfigure how we respond in analogous cases (or overall) for the rest of our lives (and perhaps beyond)! Then, we learn how to be there for ourselves and others in that same nurturing way.
The necessity and therapeutic-transformative potential of the student-teacher relationship is stressed again and again in the shastras. Through relationship we either drive ourselves further back into our shells or melt away resistances to states of fullness that we generally feel are too nice and therefore not possible for us. I would like to beseech everybody to reconsider what is possible in relationship, whether in the shala or on the street (and hopefully here on this blog)! We can practice this all the time…
Hi friends, check out our new demo teaser and my Featured Guide Page at Truth in Singing! I will be collaborating with my new friend and voice pedagog extraordinaire Karen Tucker Patterson on her new holistic approach to finding your authentic voice. I will teach yoga at the beginning of the sessions and she will then lead some revolutionary voice work. We are offering two more workshops this year, November 15th and December 13th in Lafayette, CO. Please click here to register. We are hoping to offer additional workshops next year in Denver and Boulder so stay tuned…