Lineage Motif and Development – By Emily Seymour

This is the third video project that I just completed for my Masters in Dance Education. There were two parts to the assignment – the first involved researching one of my own lineage/heritage origins based on my self-identification.

I chose to research the paternal side of my ancestry. In speaking with my father about our family history, he said our family has been in the United States since before the Revolutionary War. He said my paternal bloodline is a combination of French, English and Irish.

To gain further clarity, I went about investigating the origins of my last name, Seymour. Before starting this project, all I knew was that my name involved a reference to water.

I took this opportunity to educate myself about the root of this side of my family tree. I discovered that the name Seymour has both Norman French and Anglo Saxon origins. In both instances my name relates to specific geographic locations.

The first is an abbey in the commune Saint-Maur des-Fosses in Northern France. This historical landmark is located about seven miles from the center of Paris. Saint Maur was a traveling monk who was renowned for his healing abilities. Les-Fosses means “the moats.”

The Marne river surrounds most of Saint Maur-des-Fosses. The abbey sits on the riverbanks and was founded in 638.

The name Seymour also has ties to two locations in North Yorkshire, both of which are named Seamer. The name Seamer predominantly translates as “lake by the sea.” This is a reference to a lake that used to be near a church.

In my research of these two locational names I learned that they both involve a religious site near a body of water.

The dance portion of the assignment had a “site-specific” requirement, meaning that I needed find a setting that represented my research. So I set out to find a suitable dance space near water, which was not as easy as you might think!

My company recently transferred me to Pueblo West, Colorado. I’ve been so busy here that I’ve had very little time for exploring. But this project was a good opportunity to learn more about this beautiful area.

I spent about seven hours at different places, including the gorgeous Xeriscape Garden at Cattail Crossings, Liberty Point above the Pueblo Reservoir, and Lake Pueblo State Park. All three of these sites were amazing but I decided to film at the Wildlife Area overlooking the reservoir.

Prior to this course, I had very limited video production skills. Due to my high learning curve, this might be the most challenging class that I’ve ever taken. There’s certainly more that I could do with developing my editing skills. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to work on this in some of the other beautiful spots in Pueblo West.

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Kaleidoscopic Katas – 2021

Dance your way to wellness in this experimental research study. Kaleidoscopic Katas is an innovative fusion form that combines somatic elements of Afro-Modern, Yoga, and Qigong. In this 5-part workshop you will learn five sequences (katas) for holistic health enhancement. This study is inspired by twenty years of the teacher/researcher’s lived experience, interest in the sacred geometry of the body, and curiosity about cultivating longevity through spinal health.

Dates: July 27 – Aug 13

Time: Tuesdays and Fridays 5-7pm MST (no class on Aug 6th)

Place: Zoom

Total Cost: $30

What to Bring: Athletic wear, water bottle, journal, and pen or pencil.

Level: This workshop is for adults (ages 18-64) who feel comfortable participating in 90-minute low-impact classes for strength, flexibility and balance.

Emily Seymour Yanvalou
Teacher/Researcher: Emily Seymour is from Camden, Maine. She has been teaching dance, yoga, and martial arts for seventeen years. She has a BA in Traditional Eastern Arts and a 1000-hour Yoga Teacher certification. She is currently working on her Masters degree in Dance Education through the University of Northern Colorado.
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Kundalini
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Yoga
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Five Animal Frolic
Kaleidoscopic Katas: Qigong

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Teaching Philosophy: Emily Seymour

I am a firm believer in the value of alternative education. My parents were public school teachers and I grew up observing their methods. My father was a middle school music teacher and my mother taught elementary school. I witnessed their enjoyment of creative education, their commitment to professionalism, and their bureaucratic struggles.

Growing up, I was recognized as a gifted and talented student, particularly in the Arts and Humanities. I attended young writers conferences, Girls State, and participated in the Odyssey of the Mind program. I was a competitive musician, an active thespian, and studied with world-famous dancers. I feel very fortunate to have had these outlets, as I did not enjoy standardized education.

In high school I wanted to attend private school but that wouldn’t have reflected well on my parents. So I chose the most alternative private college I could find. No grades, no tests – just an opportunity to enjoy my favorite subjects. I took a leave of absence to apprentice with a master teacher and choreographer. Sharing dance and yoga with thousands of children ignited my love of teaching.

I became a dance major at a state university but my interest in Traditional Eastern Arts led me to another alternative college. At Naropa University I experienced a synchronistic connection to my education. Whether I was engaged in a Socratic approach to Survival Skills, practicing yoga infused with philosophy, or learning the nuances of Tai Chi, it all interwove to form a rich tapestry of immersive, creative learning.

My teaching philosophy is rooted in these experiences. I especially enjoy working one-on-one and with groups of students over extended time frames. My yoga training has strengthened my ability to support students and colleagues in a balanced way. I believe in the importance of being thoughtful, disciplined and attentive to details. I welcome opportunities to further develop my skill set while leveraging my background.

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Artistic Statement: Dance – Emily Seymour

I view dance as a medium for life force energy cultivation; it is a matrix for various movement technologies. This feeling of heightened awareness is like an electrical current moving through my body. I have experienced this sensation through movement, music, meditation, and while observing dance.

I’ve been aware of this phenomenon since my early childhood. My father is a musician, and so I asked him why I had goose bumps when I listened to music. He explained that it was an effect of the aesthetic sense, but that felt like only part of the answer. I went searching for more answers, which I discovered through dance, yoga, and martial arts.

The common denominator that wove these modalities together has many names: àse, chi, prana, mana, and pneuma are all used to describe this concept of vital energy.

I was blessed to connect with teachers who furthered my understanding of the conductive nature of dance. One of my primary teachers was dancer, choreographer and anthropologist Arthur Hall. I also completed immersive studies with Yogi Nataraja Kallio and Jin Wei.  

I dance because it recharges my human battery. For me, the effects of dancing extend beyond the benefits of exercise, lifestyle and diet. This nourishment has sustained me through some of the greatest challenges in my life. It is alchemical, meditative and therapeutic; it is a taste of freedom that I aspire to share in my service as a teacher.

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Self Teacher Study – Plant Nanny

I found this really cute app called Plant Nanny. It helps you drink enough water. It was rated as the best App of the Year in 2013 and has been downloaded over 1,000,000 times. It’s free and slightly addicting, in a good way…

I’ve been playing with this app for a couple of months and I can tell you that it works. So much so that I’ve shared it with 60 people. From the App Store description:

Plant Nanny combines health with fun to remind you to drink water regularly. The cute plant keeps you company every day by living in your phone. In order to keep it alive and help it grow, you must give it water at certain periods of time.

One of the first things I talk with new clients about is the importance of being well-hydrated. One of the reasons people try yoga is because they want to increase their flexibility. Being well-hydrated is an essential first step towards reaching this goal.

Inflexibility (muscle tightness, cramping, etc.) is just one side effect of dehydration. Being well-hydrated has many positive effects on the body and mind. According to the CDC, drinking enough water can help with:

  • Managing body weight
  • Clear thinking
  • Mood stability
  • Regular digestion
  • Prevention of kidney stones

Paying attention to your hydration levels involves paying attention to your body. That’s not always an easy thing to do. Many people find that it’s easier to focus on another person’s well-being, as a way of beginning the process of taking care of themselves.

Nurturing someone else helps them do the very thing they need to do for themselves.

How the App Works:

  1. Start a plant. Select any of the free varieties, pick a pot and a background for it. You can even give it a name.
  2. Enter your body weight and activity level to determine how much water your plant needs every day.
  3. Select your favorite drinking container and pick a water measurement.

Say you pick a glass that holds 8 oz of water. When you water your plant you press the glass icon button. Above the icon is a number. If you need to drink 64 oz of water every day, you’d need to water your plant 8 times a day.

The idea is to drink water at the same time as when you water your plant. Each plant bobs and chirps when you water it. However, if you forget your plant it gets sad and eventually dies. [Hint: Don’t start a plant at night.]

The first time I forgot to water my plant I tried reviving it with my “Drops of Life.” You start with ten drops that be used to help your plant grow faster or can revive a dead plant. None of my plants died but I did waste a lot of Drops trying to resuscitate my sad little plant.

After your plant grows up (takes 1-2 weeks) you move it to your garden where it produces seeds every day. You can use these seeds to buy exotic plants, fancier pots and unique backgrounds.

Plant Nanny teaches you how to take care of yourself through a personalized approach to health and wellness. It also teaches kindness, empathy and self-care.

Interested in learning some additional strategies for staying well-hydrated? Contact me to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Aparigraha: Yoga’s Answer to Streamlining the New Year

Aparigraha Yoga New YearWith the holidays behind us and a new year ahead, this seemed like a perfect time to discuss the yogic practice of Aparigraha.

For me, New Year’s is less about making resolutions and more about getting organized. As a minimalist (who loves to shop) Aparigraha comes in very handy with decision-making. I use it when deciding what to keep and what to let go of. It also helps me determine what I want to bring in to my life.

The yamas and niyamas (morals and observances) are the first two branches of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga. These primary steps offer a self-disciplinary code of conduct that aids in balanced spiritual development.

Aparigraha is the fifth yama. It’s translated as non-possessiveness, or the absence of greed. The objective is to free your mind from covetous thoughts. One way to accomplish this is through the minimalist lifestyle.

According to the Yoga Sutras, when the mind is purified of greed you obtain the siddhi (paranormal power) of remembering all of your past lives. That is, if you believe in reincarnation.

Aparigraha teaches us to take only what we need. It’s kind of like doing an inventory of our lives. It raises the questions of what do we cling to and what is weighing us down? And not just material things (although that’s certainly part of it). We may hold on to:

  • Our identity, or who we think we are
  • People (partners, friends, enemies, children, etc.)
  • Dogmas/Beliefs

Aparigraha is an invitation to release that which does not serve you. Those boxes of papers that you haven’t touched in five years. Clothes that you haven’t worn in over a year. Unbalanced relationships. Former teachings that are no longer relevant.

One word of advice – take your time with this process. It can be difficult to begin and easy to get carried away. Start by asking what can I change? Baby steps are huge with this kind of work. Notice where the sticky spots are. You could also try any of these exercises:

  1. Eliminate Food Waste: In my home we have a weekly menu, where we keep track of what food is in the fridge, which meals are on deck, and when the expiration dates are.
  2. Create a Capsule Wardrobe: Reduce clutter by donating or selling any clothes that you don’t wear. The clothes that you wear regularly form the basis of your capsule wardrobe. [Read: 7 Tips to Help You Create Your Capsule Wardrobe]
  3. Reset to Zero: This is a lovely way to describe what happens to our minds when our home environment is put into order. It’s like hitting a reset button on your mental state – especially helpful before beginning any new projects. [Read: Reset to Zero]

These are just a few ways that you can streamline the start of your New Year. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

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A Yoga Joes Holiday Salute

Just for fun, a client gave me a set of Yoga Joes for Christmas.

(It made my day)

By sheer coincidence, I discovered them a week ago. I saw an ad and my immediate thought was:

I want those!

I didn’t know anything about Yoga Joes, I just thought they were great. Turns out they were a Kickstarter project.

Dan Abramson created Yoga Joes to help promote yoga practice, especially among people who might not be likely to try yoga. He hopes to inspire beginners, men and veterans. In one interview, he explained:

Because yoga is for everyone, it reaches far beyond the cliche of a skinny, pumpkin spice latte white girl. All kinds of people can benefit from the strength and focus that comes from a good stretch, and I hope people who look at this toy, will consider giving it a try.

It’s the sort of thing I’ll never buy for myself, so it was a perfect gift. I received the original Yoga Joe set, with Headstand, Meditation (a.k.a. Easy) Pose, Cobra Pose, Warrior One, Warrior Two, Child’s Pose, Tree Pose, Crow Pose, and Downward-facing dog.

I really like the attention to detail. And I appreciate the accuracy of the poses, such as how the foot is placed above the knee in Tree Pose. The body type of the models is true to form (observe the shoulders in Child’s Pose:)

It was one of many gestures of kindness from all of the amazing people that I’m blessed to work with. To express my gratitude, I put together a little Yoga Joes salute in their honor.

I had so much fun playing with my new toy. They’ll most likely travel, but these are their starting points.

From our home to yours, wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

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Home Rituals – Maple Coconut Pumpkin Pie

My friend Camilla introduced me to this pumpkin pie recipe when we were college roommates. She made a dairy-free, gluten-free version that was outstanding. Honestly, it changed my whole outlook on pumpkin pie.

I’m thankful that I don’t have any food allergies or sensitivities. But I picked up a few tricks while living with people who do. Like this Maple Coconut Pumpkin Pie.

I like the filling even more than the traditional recipe. It’s simple enough – just replace the sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk and maple syrup. I couldn’t remember the exact ratio so I looked up these recipes:

King Arthur Flour – Pumpkin Pie

Primally Inspired – Paleo Pumpkin Pie

I also did a little research on what pumpkin is good for. No surprise here – pumpkin is considered to be a superfood. Some of the many health benefits of pumpkin include:

  • High in Vitamins A and C
  • Boosts vision
  • Rich in beta-carotene
  • May reduce the risk of cancer
  • Prevents wrinkles
  • Balances electrolytes

Combining pumpkin with coconut milk and maple syrup takes this recipe up multiple notches. In The Skinny on Skin Care I talk about why coconut is so beneficial for your skin.  (Tip: eating coconut also nourishes your skin from the inside).

Maple syrup does wonders for the body too. I like to cook with a variety of natural sweeteners and maple syrup is one of my favorites. [Read: Home Rituals – Maple Pecan Pie]

Maple Coconut Pumpkin Pie

Filling:

1-15 ounce can pumpkin puree

1 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

 

Crust:

One 9-inch unbaked pie crust (I use a variation of this recipe: All Butter Pie Crust).

 

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk three eggs until well combined. Add pumpkin puree, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
  2. Combine filling using an immersion blender.
  3. Refrigerate filling overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Roll pie dough into a 13″ circle and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.
  6. Pour filling into the unbaked pie shell.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until a knife blade inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Optional: Top with sweetened whipped cream or coconut whipped cream.

Create Your Own Sleep Retreat in 6 Easy Steps

I just completed a ten day sleep retreat. I didn’t plan it, it just happened. I didn’t realize how sleep deprived I was until I started sleeping 10-11 hours at a stretch.

Last month I struggled with insomnia. I’d wake up at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning and my busy mind would not let me fall back asleep. It was a rough couple of weeks, but it gave me a firsthand experience of what many people struggle with on a daily basis.

To share some stats about sleep disorders… according to the American Sleep Association:

  • 50-70 million Americans have a sleep disorder.
  • Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder.
  • 30% of adults suffer from short term insomnia.
  • 10% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia.

The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep. Approximately one third of Americans report that they get less than 7 hours of sleep during a typical 24 hour period. Sleep disorders have been linked to drowsy driving, obesity, and death (due to medical errors).

People are taking steps to address sleeping disorders. Many luxury hotels and resorts have started offering Sleep Vacation packages. In an effort to combat stress, many couples are choosing to sleep alone.

[Recommended Reading: British couples too stressed to sleep in same bed.]

The practice of Sleep Yoga also encourages practitioners to sleep separately. Sleeping alone increases relaxation and allows for a more individualized dreaming experience.

Sleeping alone is one of 6 recommended steps for creating your own Personal Yoga Sleep Retreat. If spending a couple thousand dollars on a weekend getaway doesn’t fit your budget, a DIY home sleep retreat is an affordable and effective alternative.

Step 1: Take a Stay-cation. Give yourself the gift of some quiet time at home. Clear your schedule, and resist the impulse to fill it back up again.

Step 2: Clean your bedroom. Wipe down surfaces, vacuum, wash your sheets. Sort through clutter and donate items you aren’t using anymore.

Step 3: Avoid caffeine. People have different sensitivity levels to caffeine. As a general rule, if your goal is to fall asleep by 10pm reduce your caffeine intake after 5pm.

Step 4: Minimize exposure to artificial lights (this includes screen time). Candlelight or low lights will help you wind down.

Step 5: Bathe before bed. Take a shower or (even better) a bath. Adding a cup of Epsom salts to your bath will relax your muscles and increase your ability to sleep. Put on clean sleeping clothes and relax in bed with the lights off.

Step 6: Sleep alone (if you have the option to do so). It makes a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.

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Intro to Pranayama Training Course

“When the breath wanders the mind is also unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still and the yogi achieves long life.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Excerpt from the Intro to Pranayama training course:

My Story

I started practicing pranayama ten years ago. I spent two years studying the techniques and theories. Before then, I’d received a very brief introduction to pranayama through drop-in yoga classes. The intricate breathing practices were interesting, but I was much more attracted to the physical practice of yoga.

When I decided to become a yoga teacher I started learning basic pranayama techniques. Honestly, I didn’t want to do it! I didn’t have much patience and foolishly thought it was too easy for me.

The truth was that the idea of meditation was a little terrifying. I had been working with an anxiety disorder and the suggestion to sit quietly with my own mind seemed impossible.

[Recommended Reading: Up to 67% of People Would Rather Receive an Electric Shock than Meditate]

There’s a saying in yoga: That which you resist is the thing you need the most.

Hindsight being 20-20, pranayama was exactly what I needed. As a kid I was diagnosed with asthma, so my lungs were already weak. A solid pranayama practice would have helped immensely. But my ego was getting in the way of my ability to take care of myself…

My yoga teacher could see that I wasn’t breathing properly. He insisted that I learn the basic techniques. I went on learn the more advanced techniques and over time the theories began to take root. Eventually, I began to experience the more profound, subtle effects of pranayama.

What did I learn?

Pranayama training gave me a great appreciation for internal yoga practices. I also respect the many health benefits of asana practice. Americans have explored this facet of the yoga diamond extensively, due to our appreciation of the athleticism of the human body.

But I will say this…

If you never go beyond the physical practice of yoga you are shortchanging yourself.

The best analogy I can offer is:

If you take a bunch of vegetables, cut them up and put them into a pot, pour water over them but never turn on the stove… and somehow, you’re expecting that it will transform into soup.

Obviously, that’s never going to happen.

The way to light the fire of yoga practice is through comprehensive application and cultivation of the internal practices. It’s absolutely essential to have a well-rounded understanding of all of the branches of yoga in order to make real progress.

There’s a popular misconception that yoga can be anything to anyone, which is simply not true. Not in the traditional sense of what yoga is – a path to Self-realization and union with the divine.

So let’s begin…

For more information please visit: Personal Yoga: Intro to Pranayama Training Course

 

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