Unnata Teacher Wisdom

Yoga articles and wisdom from Unnata Yoga course leaders and senior teachers.

New Series: Language of Metaphor

New video series alert! The Language of Metaphor

Definition: A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison. (Grammarly.com)

In this series of short videos, Michelle demonstrates how we can use the hammock and a little imagination to help students dive even deeper into images, and layers of meaning each asana can hold, in order to assist their journey inward. More videos to be added, soon!

To watch and subscribe to our YouTube channel, click here: The Language of Metaphor Playlist
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Do Setbacks Really Set Us Back?

It happens to all of us. The idea for a project arrives, we devise a comprehensive plan for its completion, we work diligently to achieve it, and SLAM! A wall stands in our way, stopping our progress.

Sometimes the walls that confront us are short enough and small enough to climb over, dig under, or walk around. But sometimes the walls are insurmountable, and we abandon the project. No matter the size of the wall, we need to make a decision about if and how we continue. How do we make this decision? How do we find the motivation to reach our goals when we encounter obstacles or setbacks? Personally, I like to use metaphors to help me through these decisions.

Let’s try an example together!

Okay. So, we’re on our way toward achieving some goal, and then, WHAM! We experience difficulties.
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Yoga and the Art of Attention

Frequently, when I meet someone new, in order to begin to know me, they ask, “What do you do?” This question has always made me a little uncomfortable, and not because I regret the career I’ve chosen, or wish I could be doing something else. It’s just that the question is so limited. As a person, I am so much more than my job. And yet, the question is reasonable to ask. What else are they supposed to say?

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Ode to Eleanor

I don’t know if my grandmother was a singer all of her life, but she was a singer for all of my life. I remember an important part of her week was being in the church choir, even as she moved residences, and therefore moved from church to church. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I would sometimes go to rehearsals with her, because I also loved to sing. I sang in high school, so I could read sheet music and follow along well enough.

Grandma was a lover of the arts, but especially music. I remember attending several musical and theatrical performances with her over the years, from a local musical at Leisure World put on by residents, to regional shows at the Olney Theater, to national touring shows at Lincoln Center. All four of her children studied piano, she almost always had music playing whenever she was home, and she even sang a duet with grandpa as a part of their 50 year wedding anniversary celebration. Many of us did a short performance of some sort as part of the celebration, but of course, grandma and grandpa stole the show with their wit and comfort being at the center of a room full of loving friends and family.

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“Inside My Hammock” Series Announcement

Michelle Dortignac is starting a new series entitled, Inside My Hammock. This series will take a closer look into the inner workings of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, from decisions made, to advice, thoughts, and wisdom of Unnata founder Michelle Dortignac.

Take a look at the first two videos Intro to “Inside My Hammock” Series and Awkward Isn’t Forever.

And keep an eye out for upcoming videos!

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sutra 1.2 (in English)

Sometimes my mind runs amok, galloping quickly, in a forward flight, at the speed of light. It reaches other universes, goes to other lives, far, far away from the here and now.

My heart wants to follow, accelerating, never getting close. My breathing accelerates, slows, is disoriented and decides to stop..apnea..the body gives in, surrenders. Impossible to travel so far, to other worlds, to other lives, to other wars. Impossible.

And I remember that I know how to go back. I just have to look for that lighthouse that will take me to solid ground, that will bring me back to the present. A less fractious, traveling part of my mind searches for the breath, concentrates on it and, like a lost ship, we return to dry land. I take a deep breath and return to the present. My breathing, feeling observed, calms down. The heart calms, always trusting the breath. In the present, in this life, in this universe, there are no storms. And, if there are, I am prepared to overcome them…

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sutra 1.2 (en español)

A veces la mente se desboca, y galopa rápido, en una huida hacia delante, a la velocidad de la luz diría yo… porque alcanza otros universos, se va a otras vidas, lejos, muy lejos del aquí y el ahora.

El corazón quiere seguirla, acelera el paso, hace lo que puede, aunque no llega nunca a estar ni cerca. La respiración se acelera, se para, está desorientada y decide parar, apnea, el cuerpo cede, se rinde. Imposible viajar tan lejos, a otros mundos, a otras vidas. a otras guerras. Imposible.

Y recuerdo que sé volver. Solo tengo que buscar ese faro que me lleve a tierra firme, que me devuelva al presente. Una parte menos díscola y viajera de mi mente, busca la respiración, se concentra en ella y, como un barco perdido, volvemos a tierra firme, respiro profundo y vuelvo al presente. Mi respiración, al sentirse observada, se calma. El corazón se calma, siempre se fía de la respiración. En el presente, en esta vida, en este universo, no hay tormentas. Y, cuando las hay, estoy preparada para superarlas…

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Pick Up the Pace

Sometimes life throws something onto your path that makes you slow down or even stop altogether. You might welcome the pause when it’s an extended vacation or a sabbatical, but at other times, it might not be your intention to stop. Maybe you get sidetracked by an illness or a global pandemic. Whether you wanted to slow down or not, there usually comes a time when it’s necessary to pick up the pace again.

How can you pick up the pace after a pause, without lots of effort and stress?

When you move at a fast pace, you can get so much done in a short amount of time. When you move slowly, it takes longer to complete the same task. So you may feel like you never have enough time to accomplish everything, and the stress mounts. Many of us slowed down significantly during the pandemic, either because of illness or loss of work or social activities. Perhaps you’re struggling a bit to ramp back up to the pace of your life before the pandemic.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re struggling a bit with this.

During the times I’ve been away, and then returned to New York City, I’ve often wished there was some sort of “on ramp” to gradually get me back into the fast flow New York is so famous for. Well, there isn’t an on-ramp. But I have both yoga tools and aerial applications that help me manage bumpy transitions.

Let me share some yoga tools to help you ease back into your normal tempo.

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Intention-asana: How I teach Aerial Yoga differently than Aerial Acrobatics

Lately I’ve been fielding more and more questions about the difference between aerial silks (circus) and aerial yoga. For anyone who’s taken both types of well-taught classes the differences are usually pretty obvious, but it can sometimes be confusing for new students.

I teach both aerial yoga and aerial circus (in different classes). As a yoga instructor I am constantly thinking about intentions. “Why am I doing this pose?” As an aerial instructor I am constantly thinking about progressions. “How am I doing this skill?” Of course, there is definitely going to be some overlap in these two types of classes and these two questions, but there are many important differences as well.

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How to Get Your Pre-Covid Mojo Back

7 Tips for Emotional, Mental, and Social Recovery

Last night I caught up with a friend I used to dance contact-improv with in Minneapolis. I initially felt guilty that I let a few days go by before responding and that when I did finally return his message, I didn’t call. Rather, I left six awkward 1-minute voice notes via Facebook. Although this was someone I used to physically touch and laugh with on a regular basis, I couldn’t bring myself to have a live conversation; it felt like an impossible task. My guilt subsided when he replied with the admission he’d been almost 100% alone the entire year and also was feeling shy. He shared stories of how he looked away and disengaged when people tried to talk to him in the grocery store, and how he recoiled when he was eventually touched physically by a friend. He said it took an incredible presence of mind to override his nervous system’s new negative response to friendliness and connection.

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