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Coutesy Photo: Sheng Zhen teacher Ola Sun.

Seated Practices for Health at Yoga Sala

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Sheng Zhen came into my life when I decided to leave Denver and moved to the organic farming and artist’s town of Paonia, Colorado. It coincided with a time in my life of deep healing, and learning to love and take care of myself. I had decided to leave behind Bagua (a rigorous and demanding style of martial arts classes) and explore Sheng Zhen, a more gentle and subtle form. Even elders and those with severe health conditions benefit greatly from the practice. My wonderful teachers, Mary and Bobby, held five classes a week in their studio overlooking their gardens and orchard. The community who practiced were loving, kind, and accepting. The practice is like entering another world, where harmony, peace, and respect exist in every moment. It was just the medicine I needed.


I did my teacher training in the Philippines, which is where Master Li Jung Feng created the forms. He is from China, and went to the Philippines to branch off from his martial arts background. It was very cool getting to train with his original Sheng Zhen students!


In our fast-paced culture, we choose our activities to meet our needs, and fulfill the values we deem important. So where does the health of the heart and emotions fit in? The health of the body and its energy system? It’s important to give ourselves permission to be still. While I do enjoy a difficult or strenuous workout, there is nothing more important for my overall sanctity than tuning into my own heart and creating spaciousness and presence in order to be my best self through all the more active parts of my life.


The truth is that we often have hurts in our hearts that prevent us from wanting to be still, where we will feel these things. The only way for them to be released is to feel them, and though it takes time, that presence slowly dissolves our pain, and allows our hearts to open again.


Sheng Zhen is called “meditation in motion and stillness” because we practice the art of presence, the art of being IN our bodies, the art of feeling. Sheng Zhen means “unconditional love” in Chinese, and this is exactly what it cultivates. I cannot believe how frequently I am tempted to close my heart, to be angry, to hold a grudge or resentment; all of which blocks the flow of love. Every time I sit and do the forms, and observe myself, all of that melts away again. I find my center, I honor my own soul, my connection to God, and my right to happiness and love.


Sheng Zhen is a short and simple practice, involving simple motions that open up energy channels in the body, removing blockages and disease, and getting the qi (energy) flowing properly again. My own teacher could barely walk when she began her daily practice, and within a few years was completely mobile and healthy again. We hear many stories like this from the martial arts and qi gong groups; the practices clearly work! This is why in China doctors have their patients practicing daily; it really is preventative medicine.


My soul brought me to Questa, specifically El Rito. That’s the only way I can describe it! The spirits here broke my car in several ways to make sure I stayed, and I intend to for a very long time. I feel blessed to teach Sheng Zhen at Yoga Sala. My current classes are Tuesdays 8:15 am and Fridays at 10 am


Unlike yoga and other forms of martial arts and sports, I never injure myself—which I must admit means a lot to me, having done so many times over the years! I am still surprised, when I go into a bad place in my mind and heart, how doing a few sets of Sheng Zhen completely transforms my state back into health and love.


More information can be found at Shengzhen.org, including a free online school. If you feel interested, please come practice with us at Yoga Sala! Check http://www.yogasalaquesta.org/ for current class schedules.


ABOUT YOGA SALA


Yoga Sala is a multi-use studio space in Questa where regular movement classes, special events and workshops are hosted. Since opening in this location in October of 2019, classes have included yoga, zumba, tai chi, kids ballet and hip hop, and meditation. Sala Reach, a program of the local nonprofit, Localogy, offers several weekly classes freely to the community, hosted at the studio. Our nonprofit programs are supported by donations and funded in part through a grant from LANL Foundation this summer and fall. All classes and activities are built with this intention: to support a culture of health. Sala Reach also collaborates with Questa Creative Council to sponsor musical events. The overall goal this summer and fall is to support community health as people gather again and to support musicians and moving arts teachers who lost employment in 2020.


Gentle Yoga Classes: Every Monday we host a free gentle yoga class at 4:30 (1 hour) with Rae Lewis, who has eight years of experience in her personal yoga practice and wants to share the healing properties of mindful movement with all. Her class can be done seated in a chair or on the floor. Wednesday morning class at 9 am is equally accessible and gentle. That’s the class that people with an old injury or just returning to yoga after a long time away will attend. It’s very gentle and floor-based with generally one standing set (but no getting up and down many times).


Weekly yoga classes are free for those in recovery, coping with post-traumatic stress or coping with addiction in their family system, for veterans and their family members, for law enforcement officers and first responders, and for teens.

Sala Reach offers classes based on community interest and teacher interest and input. Please email YogaSalaQuesta@gmail.com, call (575) 224-2102, to give your input. The schedule can be found at YogaSalaQuesta.org, Instagram, and Facebook. Please sign up for Yoga Sala’s monthly E-newsletter on our website.

Author

  • Ola Sun, of Questa, NM, is a student of life, and lover of people, ideas, and artistic expression. She runs Sun Botanicals, which makes herbal products, and co-runs Dyed and Reborn, which sells plant-based dyed natural clothing. Her practices include meditation, contemplation, Sheng Zhen, yoga, theorizing, and many different forms of art. She has books of poetry and philosophy in the works. The first is "Becoming Bliss," a collection of transcendent love poems for God, Nature, and life. olasunart.com

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