Yoga Retreat Offered At Better Farm Aug. 12-14

Yoga Retreat Offered At Better Farm Aug. 12-14

A yoga retreat is scheduled this summer at Better Farm from Aug. 12-14.

Activities are scheduled from Friday evening through mid-day Sunday, and are available to people who wish to stay on-site (or for locals who would like to participate in the activities but sleep at home). One-day and half-day passes are also available.

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'Exceptional Family' Arts, Wellness Expo Slated at Better Farm Aug. 24

The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), in partnership with betterArts, will host its Exceptional Family Arts and Wellness Expo from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at Better Farm in Redwood.


The event, free and open to the public, will feature artwork and performance pieces by children enrolled in EFMP—as well artwork by children living locally. Among the events slated for that day are a dance performance with Amy Earle School of Dance, upcycling projects, yoga exercises run by Lotus Blooms Yoga, a gallery showcase of artwork by local students, arts 'n' crafts, tours of Better Farm's gardens and buildings, and locally produced food fired up on the grill along with organic, locally grown side dishes ($5/plate).


Representatives from Northern Lights Chiropractic will additionally be on-site offering massages and information about that company's services. 

The EFMP works with other military and civilian agencies to provide services for family members with special needs, including:
  • Comprehensive and coordinated medical services
  • Educational needs
  • Housing needs
  • Community support services
  • Personnel services
The EFMP assists with the special physical, emotional, developmental, and intellectual needs by providing community support services such as resources, information and referral, advocacy, support groups, respite care and relocation assistance. An Exceptional Family Member (EFM) is defined as a dependent family member (child or adult) of an active duty soldier, who has a physical, emotional, developmental, behavioral, mental, or intellectual disorder requiring special treatment, therapy, education, training, or counseling on an on-going basis. Examples of EFMs include those with asthma, autism, ADD, diabetes, arthritis, depression, bipolar or schizophrenic symptoms, anxiety/phobias, panic disorders, learning disabilities, and those requiring special education services.

BetterArts has partnered with EFMP for this event in order to draw public attention to the creative genius of all children; and to increase public access to arts and culture in the North Country.

Families who would like their child to show art or participate in some way at this event (performances, readings, arts 'n' crafts enthusiasts, and more) are encouraged to contact Michelle at (315) 772-5488. 

The Family and MWR Exceptional Family Member Program helps provide support and required care for family members with disabilities and special needs, to better support the Soldiers and Family Members stationed at Fort Drum. For more information, click here. BetterArts increases access to programs like this and other arts and cultural opportunities throughout the North Country. To learn more about betterArts' mission and work, click here.
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Spotlight On: Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center

The main meeting space at Kripalu; site of healings, reiki, workshops, and of course yoga classes.
Several people from Better Farm (two betterArts residents, a sustainability intern, and I) yesterday took a field trip to Adams Center, N.Y., to visit two very special places: the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center, and Woodhenge Self-Reliance Campus (blog post on the latter to follow!).

Our first stop was at the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center, which was founded more than 30 years ago on the belief that all humanity is one family and that the Divine swells within each of us.  The center is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the integration of body, mind and spirit. Its members support this philosophy through the teaching and practice of yoga, health related programs, and services to nurture personal growth and community.



The sprawling property includes a main meeting house for workshops, yoga classes, healings, reiki, and more; a nature trail, stone circle, artwork, and sculpture, and labyrinth.

The center offers the following:

The centerpiece of the center (and highlight for us) is a 70-foot labyrinth installed more than a decade ago by board members and people in the community who volunteered their time and materials for the effort. The center's president, Nancy Pfeil, took time out of her day to show us around and join us on a stroll through the labyrinth and short hike on the property.

The Labyrinth
Nancy explained to us the history of labyrinths; that they're found in many cultures dating back as much as 3,500 years, and that unlike mazes, labyrinths are  unicursal, having a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. They all share the basic features of an entrance or mouth, a single circuitous path and a center or goal.

Here's Nancy showing us a finger labyrinth she made ages ago while traveling through the southwest with her husband (she made it out of yarn and nail polish atop a red rock!):

Many community organizations, churches and retreat centers are making labyrinth walks available for public use for prayer, meditation, contemplation or personal growth. The labyrinth walk is popular with a growing number of people  because of it simplicity and the ability to approach its paths on your own terms.

To walk a labyrinth (or run your finger over one) is a right-brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
At its most basic level, the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are. Labyrinths belong to the family of “Mandalas” (sanskrit for “circle that contain the Essence”). Many people believe that labyrinths guard, activate & amplify the spiritual energies of a place so that people who walk it can experience a feeling of grace, peace or holiness in their heart, soul & spirit.

There is not a "required way" to walk the labyrinth. The beauty of the labyrinth is that people can approach the experience on their own terms. One may enter playfully or purposefully (many people are finding labyrinths therapeutic for children with ADD, who relax by running through the labyrinth); others enjoy taking intentional walks in which they address a specific intention or issue. Many use labyrinths as intercessory walks to offer prayer for others in need, or meditative walks to concentrate on a specific word or passage. Here are some shots from our walk:




 After the labyrinth, we joined Nancy on a nature walk around the property:
Stone circle
Fire pit and chairs for drumming circles



Many thanks to Nancy for welcoming us so warmly!

Board members of the center include: Nancy M. Pfeil, president; Steve Williams, vice president; Sonya Farmer, secretary/treasurer; B.J. Mosher, labyrinth facilitator; Kim Ward, marketing support; April Williams, Lisa Smith, Donna Smith, Adrienne Rule, and Sueanne Hunter. The Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center is located at 14029 Route 11, Adams Center, N.Y. For more information, visit www.kripaluyogaandwellnesscenter.org.
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Signups Open for 2011 Summer Workshop Series at Better Farm

John Sundbeck teaches a Tai Chi lesson by the banks of the St. Lawrence, Summer 2010.
Whether you're looking to open your chi, tap into your creativity, scale some high peaks, hone your photography skills, learn yoga, or survive in the wild, we've got you covered this summer at Better Farm.

All workshops held at the Farm include in their price shared-lodging accommodations, parking, laundry access, wireless Internet, all linens, meals, and group activities. All sign-ups are non-refundable except for instances of a workshop being canceled due to low enrollment. After you sign up, you will be sent a confirmation e-mail requesting further information regarding meals, lodging preferences, and special needs.

Below is a condensed list of our summer programming. Click here to learn more and sign up!

June 10-12
BACKWOODS 101: Introduction to wild edible plants & primitive camping
This course will focus on the importance of properly identifying plants, leaf structures, different parts of plants, harvesting and preparing, as well as positive recognition of poisonous plants. Students will will canoe or kayak down Black Creek looking for edible plants and a good camping area to build a primitive campsite overnight. In the instance of inclement weather the group may elect to use the outfitter’s tent. Participants should bring a bedroll, netting, flashlight, poncho, and water bottle. A daypack for hauling your gear will be beneficial, pack light! Better Farm will provide food to take along and bug spray. Group will meet at Better Farm the evening of Friday, June 10 for dinner and orientation, heading out for Black Creek Saturday morning and returning Sunday.
Instructor: Craig R. Rice is a New York Sate-certified guide instructor with more than three decades of experience in survivalism and outdoor adventuring.

June 19-21
FOR THE PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER: Build a relationship with your clients and keep them coming back!
This two-day, hands-on course will explain in detail the workflow that makes a professional photography studio successful. Participants will be shown how to pose subjects for portraiture in studio lighting, as well as outdoors under natural light. The workshop will encompass everything from photographing the client to marketing and selling photography services. Those in attendance will also learn about marketing techniques, customer service, specialty packages, and products that are sure to increase profits and raise a studio’s bottom line.
Instructor: Penny Heath is a professional photographer who has been in business for 25 years. Based out of her studio in Redwood, N.Y., she specializes in portrait photography.

ADIRONDACK HIGH PEAKS ADVENTURE 
Hurricane Mountain:  June 23-26, Oct 7-9
Whiteface Mountain:  July 28-31 
Giant  Mountain: Aug 25-28 
Dix & Noonmark Mountain: Sept 29- Oct 3

Experience two or more nights in the wilderness on one of four mountains. We will either camp primitively at a site chosen in the field or ruck out in a lean-to if one is available. All summits are open with tremendous views of the surrounding mountains from New York’s Mt. Marcy and Champlain Valley to the Green Mts. of Vermont. These trips are strenuous and require that you are in good physical condition. Proper attire is mandatory, good hiking/backpacking boots a must. You will be expected to carry a pack weighing 25 pounds or more and partake in setting up and breaking camp. Awesome trips for those tough enough. Trip planning is dynamic, the abilities and desires of your group will form our goals. Outfitting for four people: packs, sleeping bags, pads, Gortex outerwear, and more is available, please contact info@betterfarm.org with your needs. Group will meet at Better Farm Thursday evening for dinner and orientation, and leave from there Friday morning. Group will return to Better Farm Sunday.
Outfitter:  Craig R. Rice is a New York Sate-certified guide instructor with more than three decades of experience in survivalism and outdoor adventuring. 

July 9
INTRODUCTION TO TAI CHI AND THE BASICS OF SELF-DEFENSE
This three-hour seminar will acquaint students with I Ching breathing exercises, which are the foundation of the Chinese Internal Chi (including Chi Gung, Nui Gung, Fuhn Hey, and Dim Mak); and prime aspects of personal safety and self defense. Those in attendance will acquire basic skills associated with self defense including necessary holds and escape maneuvers, as well as the foundation of stances and postures associated with Tai Chi.
Instructor: John Sundbeck has been training in the Yang system Tai Chi with Master Shing Perin, originally from Taiwan, for more than 30 years. Mr. Sundbeck holds a rank of third degree Black Belt in Chito Ryu Karate, and for many years, was chief instructor of The Rochester Yoseikan Karate School. Over his many years in the Martial arts, Mr. Sundbeck has trained with six world renound Masters.

July 15-17
Aug. 12-14
Sept. 9-11
Oct. 14-16
ADIRONDACK ADVENTURE 
  
Travel to Wanakena, N.Y. in the beautiful Adirondack foothills and put down an afternoon hike to the summit of Cat Mountain with spectacular views of endless Adirondack wilds, a few more miles of hiking, and overnight in an authentic Adirondack lean-to. Go swimming or canoeing while your guides prepare an outdoor banquet that is sure to bring the bears running! The next morning after breakfast, we’ll have a pleasant woods walk along a mostly flat trail back to the trailhead and civilization. Sleeping bag, proper attire, extra socks, hiking boots, and backpack along with a camera will do you well. We’re happy to make our extra gear available if needed.  Each group will meet at Better Farm Thursday evening for dinner and orientation, and leave from there Friday morning. Group will return to Better Farm Sunday.
Instructors: Craig R. Rice and guest TBA.

Aug. 19-21
BUSHWHACKING 101: Intro to orienteering & primitive camping     

In "Bushwhacking 101" we will discuss map symbols, contour lines, gradient and route finding, as well as plotting a course, recognizing and using natural features, and establishing a backup plan. We will learn skills to navigate with a compass, variation, declination, taking bearings, following headings, triangulation, dead reckoning, getting lost, and getting out. Students will also learn backup methods for navigating such as wind direction, the sunshine, the stars, etc. We will follow up some classroom time, practice and planning with a bushwhack through trailless woods to our primitive campsite and return the following day.  Each student will receive a quality magnetic compass and topographic maps of the surrounding area for this course. Participants should bring a bedroll, netting, flashlight, poncho, and waterbottle. A daypack for hauling your gear will be beneficial, pack light! Better Farm will provide food to take along and bugspray. Group will meet at Better Farm the evening of Friday, Aug. 19 for dinner and orientation, heading into the woods Saturday morning and returning Sunday.
Instructor: Craig R. Rice

Aug. 26-28
Yoga for Creativity

This workshop is for artists and those interested in a more creative life. We will explore classic yogic practices and philosophy to help remove obstacles, uncover source material, and engender stability in your creative work or daily life. In the spirit of inquiry we will focus on connections between creation and yoga including: allowing intention to arise, anchoring our resolution, coping with disturbances, and integrating the will. A combination of experiential arts activities, lecture, and discussion will be used to develop personal understanding and application of material to life outside of the workshop. We’ll investigate movement, stillness, sound, ritual, constructing, and de-constructing.  Postures and breathing practices are offered in a safe and therapeutic manner and will range from mild to moderate.
Yoga experience not necessary; curiosity, courage, and uncertainty are.
Instructor: Lisa Enzer, M.Ed., RYT-500 hr., developed "Yoga for Creativity" as a way to integrate ancient wisdom traditions with her many years of experience as a performer, choreographer, teaching artist, and community builder.
Lisa has a wide-ranging background in experimental theater, drama education, dance, classical yoga, and group facilitation.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

'Yoga for Creativity' Workshop Planned

Do you long for the time you once had to make things, play, design, doodle or sing? In the midst of our busy days we forget that we are the creators of our lives and that self-expression is elemental to healthy living. Sound familiar? Then you're going to love "Yoga for Creativity," a workshop scheduled from Aug. 26-28 and led by Lisa Enzer, an M.Ed., RYT-500 hr. educator who is well-versed in experimental theater, drama education, dance, classical yoga, and group facilitation.

In "Yoga for Creativity," Lisa will guide students on an exploration of practices based on ancient wisdom to uncover the freedom that lives inside each of us. Classic yogic practices and philosophy will help remove obstacles, uncover source material, and engender stability in your creative work or daily life. In the spirit of inquiry students will focus on connections between creation and yoga including: allowing intention to arise, anchoring resolution, coping with disturbances, and integrating the will.

You already have the inner resources necessary to participate; whether you are an artist or an ‘everyday’ creative, this program supports a person's needs to express oneself and experience contentment. All art supplies and materials provided.

Yoga experience not necessary; curiosity, courage, and uncertainty are.

To sign up for this workshop and to see a complete list of Better Farm's 2011 programming, click here.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Workshop Reflections: Yoga

I signed up for the yoga workshop at Better Farm having absolutely no prior experience with yoga. Not knowing what to expect, I looked forward to a weekend of relaxation, reflection and revitalization. And that’s exactly what I got!

The loft of the barn provided an ideal serene space for our yoga exercises and meditation. Some of the exercises were rigorous and challenging, but the instructor Danielle patiently led us through, encouraging us to push our limits to develop strength. Her soothing voice also led us through a deep meditation mid-day Saturday. The combination of energizing the body and relaxing the mind led to a state of deeper peace. As the day came to a close, we discussed the new moon, and created new intentions to carry us forward. This felt as rejuvenating as the yoga and meditation.

Not a morning person, I’ll admit that I dreaded the sun salutation at 5:30 the following morning; but I’m very glad I managed to drag myself out of bed for it. We began again in the loft of the barn, with the Five Tibetans, a great, quick yoga routine which I plan to continue. The walking meditation around the perimeter of the farm provided the perfect tranquility to carry throughout the day. With each breath in, the foot lifted, and with each breath out, the foot fell, as we slowly, silently made our way around the farm. Barefoot, we could feel each cool, wet blade of grass, while drinking in the rising world around us. Simply beautiful.

This yoga workshop was the perfect way to start my time at the farm, clearing my mind and helping me to focus, with peace and strength, on the path before me.

Within the Mystery: Better Farm holds yoga workshop

Better Farm from July 9-11 hosted "Within the Mystery," a weekend-long yoga retreat led by Los Angeles-based Danielle Marie Gutshall of The Conscious Canopy.

With students from as far as York, Penn., and Brooklyn, N.Y., the fresh air and quiet loft space of Better Farm's barn were welcomed reliefs from the everyday buzz of city and suburban life.

"I really liked the outdoor space and the people," one yoga student wrote. "It was beautiful here and a great place to relax and reflect," said another.

"Within the Mystery" combined a spectrum of events to bring students deeper within their selves. Those in attendance practiced a blend of yoga (Kripalu meets Kundalini), breathwork, guided relaxation, and a taste of shamanic journeying.

Photos from the workshop after the jump!


Danielle Marie Gutshall is an interdisciplinary artist, yoga instructor, Reiki Master, and childbirth specialist.  She currently resides in Los Angeles ,where she guides new families as a birth and postpartum doula and a Birthing from Within Mentor.  She is also passionate about nature, shamanism, storytelling, ritual and archetypes, and where they meet and merge. She has studied with mentors such as Hank Wesselman, Jill Kuykendall, Pam England, Susun Weed, Saul David Raye, Gurmukh Khalsa, and Guru Singh.  For more information check out www.theconsciouscanopy.net.

All photos by Emily McCombs
1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.