6 Reason Why You Don’t Understand Mindful Movement
Journey into the Uniqueness of Sarah Rusnak’s Yoga Brand

As women and men — human beings — we have A LOT of stereotypes thrown our way. Part of life is about navigating, in order to find what feels right for you. Learning to notice what brings you joy. Versus sticking with what’s pushing you down. 

Truth be told, American culture emphasizes productivity over rest. Quantity over quality. And stress over pleasure.

This is where mindful movement comes in. Not only does it engage your musculoskeletal system as a form of exercise; it also attunes you to the opposite side of the US cultural status quo. In real time, you practice…

Rest. Quality. Pleasure.

 

You may feel completely burnt out. Maybe you’ve given up on your fantasies of feeling good in your body and proud of your choices. Maybe you feel your anxiety and stress are a demon you’ll never banish.

I understand your skepticism. 

There’s a lot of theories out there, they promise easy fixes for your mind-body challenges. It’s disorienting. 

So, you may be wondering: how would Sarah’s mindful movement classes be able to help me achieve the things I want? 

In short, my preferred movement — the kind I practice, live and teach — is based on: 

 

  • Seeking out what feels good in your body. 
  • Nurturing your soul desires through your movement choices.
  • Making time for emotional release and trauma recovery.
  • Exploring the edge of your mobility and range of motion with care.
  • Backing off when you notice yourself straining.
  • Using curiosity as a way to engage your attention in your body.
  • Choosing to expand a cross-cultural awareness of Yogic traditions.

My mindful movement classes are inspired by my life experiences. As a massage therapist, I witnessed with my hands how much tension people hold in their bodies. Then I studied yoga to reduce tension in my own body.

My years of experience pulled me to learn about the powerful healing of Ayurveda. This ancient science guided me toward self-compassion – at a point in time that my life was terribly stressful. I learned to take an honest look at the things I didn’t like about myself. I began to unpack them. I began to write a new story. 

All of these years of experience have brought me to today. I woven together the best of what I know. I offer it to you in my Mindful Movement Membership. You get some yoga! You build strength and range of motion in your body. Your balance gets better. You soothe stress. You show up and take care of you!

Mindful Movement is a tool that helps you to nurture your UNIQUE nature.

As you will see (or for those who have been hanging around for awhile you already know), the natural world is a key point and an inspiration in my life.  Nature inspires my Mindful Movement classes. How I move through the natural world. And the nature of ME.

So, I’d love to have your nature — which is as unique as your fingerprint — join me on this movement journey. Are you ready to pivot towards those desires you may have felt were unachievable?

 

 

Let’s start by going over a few questions I receive regularly when people are folx are just starting to investigate yoga and Ayurveda with me. I hope they help you to more deeply understand what I offer.

What is Yoga?

To begin, Yoga means union. 

Its definition is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj.” This translates as “to yoke.” You’re probably wondering how that relates to a union?

Well you see, yoga began in India over 5,000 years ago.

Yoking is not used in our English language as much as it once was. It meant to harness two animals — like a team of oxen — together. This yoking enabled them to plow a field side by side. 

Don’t you want your body and mind to be in sync, to be yoked? We need to prepare our field of life so we have a proper place for our soul seeds to grow. 

Union helps us do the tasks. Whether it be growing a garden. Working from home. Raising your kids. Or living well through retirement.

I’m bet you’re wondering more about how union relates to yoga and movement. I’ll get there in a bit. But first I want to give you more of a history of yoga.

The Ancient Backstory of Yoga

There is a 700 verse Hindu poem called,  “The Bhagavad Gita.” It takes place on a battleground and it references three kinds of yoga. 

This battleground can be interpreted as a metaphor for everyday life and the tough choices we are constantly faced with. Consider the tough choices you’ve had to make just this past week. 

One character in the Gita (an unconditionally loving spiritual advisor) is named Krishna. Khrisna is a loving advisor to Arjuna who is caught in a war with his family. Kishna shares with Arjuna the three paths of yoga that will help (wo)man to reach enlightenment. 

The three yogic paths are as follows:

  1. Bhakti yoga is about love and devotion to all beings. Service and acceptance is a powerful force in humanity. Think about how good it feels to volunteer your time to a cause you care about. To help a friend in need. Bhakti is about acting out the feeling of dedication and devotion.
  2. Jnana yoga is a commitment to study ancient text and teachings. In that, it focuses on the intellect to obtain enlightenment. To ponder life. Study. Contemplate and reflect. If you consider yourself to be a lifelong student, that is akin to jnana yoga.
  3. Karma yoga is a path of service and action. Working towards a specific outcome. This is considered a path towards Spirit’s calling. If you have a strong calling toward what you want to do in this life, a passion that you must fulfill, that is the actualization of the karma yoga path.

 

There is no written record of an organized system of yoga poses and practices until a man named Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras (400 BC to 200 BC). This was the birth of the kinds of yoga that we see so much of today.

The downside of living in a commercialized country is that people have stereotypes about yoga. This is common. Who could not cultivate a distorted perception when all you see are fit, young women in form fitting athletic wear?

 

Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s advertising. For pants and whatnot.

There are MANY kinds of modern yoga styles and brands. Imagine a tree. There are roots. The trunk. And branches. (If you’d like to see a yoga history tree graphic click here. Created by Amy Weintrub).

For something that has been growing for over 5,000 years, it makes sense that there are variations. Just like plants that cross-pollinate and change due to environmental factors, so too, the evolution of yoga is influenced by the people who practice and teach it. 

My intention is not to overwhelm you on the topic of “what is yoga?” I intend to bring awareness that there is a lot to yoga beyond what you may have known up until this point.

I also want to highlight that the commercialized stereotype of yoga can exacerbate your self-doubt. I know it has for me! And I’ve had many clients share concerns about their body size, physical limitations, and general insecurities. All that can get in the way of beginning and sticking with yoga. 

 

I want you to kiss your self-doubt goodbye. Blow it to the wind. Yoga is for EVERY body. For all bodies!

How Yoga Meets Your Needs

 

Let’s go back to how Yoga means union. What is it you’d like to unify? You may want to slow down your mind – but you ALSO  want to energize your reluctant body. You may desire to cultivate loving-kindness – even though you never received from your primary caregivers (nor did you receive it from your lovers). Maybe you want to expand your exercise routine – but you’re convinced that your body and life have too many obstacles. 

Yoga is the place where you work WITH your contradictions, unpacking them and discovering solutions that had not occurred to you before.

From the earlier three paths outlined in “The Bhagavad Gita” and Patanjali’s writings; the path of Raja yoga and the style of Hatha yoga were born. Hatha yoga is a physical practice. Exertion is its meaning. Hatha yoga is the practice of mindful movement and breathing. Hatha yoga is where the majority of western yoga radiates from.

 

I’d love to share with you more about my unique style of hatha yoga.

Sarah’s Yoga Background

As I alluded to earlier, yoga was a safety net for me. Growing up and in my early adulthood, I had intense family related stress. The trauma of it all caused physical tension in my body and a chaotic psyche. My mental health was suffering. Time on my yoga mat became a blissful relief.

I decided to take my practice deeper.

In 2006 I completed my first teacher training with Ana Forrest. And I kept receiving mentorship. By 2011 I had expanded my skill set, knowledge, and personal experience. I committed to and finished an advanced teacher training with Ana and Forrest Yoga. 

I choose this yoga style because of Forrest Yoga’s pillars:

 

  • Breath
    To facilitate new energy into your body. To connect with your inner wilderness. To break loose what’s not needed.
  • Strength
    To move from your core as a place of strength. In turn, it becomes emotional strength when life feels tough.
  • Integrity
    Ride your edge, emotionally and physically, within the yoga poses. Stick with it. Learn to recognize your struggle and soften it. Utilize your self-embodied tools, like curiosity and playfulness.
  • Spirit
    To establish a connection with your inner knowing. Or deepen it. And learn how you can move through life from this place. Not just on the mat.

 

By 2015 I understood the importance of trauma-informed yoga within our society. So I began to volunteer and study with the non-profit organization, Yoga Behind Bars. Then I completed a specialized trauma informed training that was offered by my beloved teacher, Michale Stone

I don’t want you to feel triggered while you’re practicing yoga. I don’t want you to use yoga to control or punish your body. I don’t want you to turn off your sensitivity to your body’s pain just so you can get a workout. 

I want you to feel safe so you can explore your body. AND any emotions or thoughts that come up during your Mindful Movement practices. (Sometimes that intense stuff comes up after a Mindful Movement session too). 

 

I train intentionally with Mindful Movement, so I can move freely in everyday life, while feeling safe and confident. I want that freedom and security for you too!

 

Exercise. Why You Need It.

Imagine losing the function of your legs — your quality of life would drastically change. Am I right? You may experience deep grief. You would lose certain freedoms. You would lose your full access to movement. 

Exercise is more than having a rockin’ bod. But if you desire to look good, so you can feel good in your own skin, that’s a great value to have.

But you might want to maintain mobility and stamina as you age. Feeling good in my body and being able to move freely is one of the biggest values that inspires me to commit to make time for exercise everyday. 

Think about this. With the industrial revolution, the automobile gave us the independence to travel with little to no bodily strength required. Your vehicle receives maintenance for oil, tires, fluids, repair and more. Right?

Your body needs those check-ups and rotations too. Your body gives you the freedom to move through space. Independently. I bet you don’t want to lose that freedom. 

Mindful movement is a great way to tune into your overall needs. It’s a tool that naturally helps you sync your brain with your body’s movement, helping you to maintain coordination and sharp thinking. Then there’s the added bonus of endorphins releasing throughout your body, which boosts your mood.

Conscious and intentional movement can help you feel better in your relationships. Feel better at work. Better with your family. More at home in your community.

 

As an adult, you may look back in your life and long for the days when you felt happy in your body. When you weren’t hyper-aware of your body’s shape and its flaws. You can have that now too!

  • Perhaps your reason for not devoting consistent time for exercise is because of time. You don’t have the time, you say?
  • Do you ever feel a sense of lost hope, like giving up on your body? Maybe you say things like, “this is just what happens with getting old”.

 

I want to invite you to get curious about your upbringing. Did your parents and caretakers model a physically active lifestyle? Maybe they did. But the activities were not to your liking. Either way, I want to remind you we are habitual and social creatures. So we often model what we see. What we know. And what we believe to be true.

All of that is ok. The point being is – the pursuit of consistent exercise is typically valued in younger generations. As a way to burn energy. Create energy. Socialize. Explore nature. And to keep up on the looks of their body. 

I highly recommend you consider range-of-motion, freedom, and feel-good in your body as cornerstone values that compel you to move MORE OFTEN as you age!

Do you desire to age with confidence and with age appropriate fitness? This study emphasizes exercise to prevent AND counteract the detrimental side effects of aging. The recommended activities are aerobic, resistance training (weights), flexibility, and balance. (Read here for how multi-modal exercise prevents falls).

 

The beauty of yoga and the Mindful Movement Membership that I offer, is that it gives you all of that!

 

In my experience and observation of our culture: we are a work hard — get ‘er done — kind of people. I appreciate this about our culture. We have made some incredible inventions that have changed the world because of our innovation and drive.

However, this perspective doesn’t honor that you are a human creature. Like nature you have cycles. When it comes to exercise, there are times you are ready to work hard and sweat. Then there are times that you just need to breathe in a gentle pose. Or go for a slow walk.

This is what I love about yoga. It teaches you how to meet yourself where you’re at. Commit to self-compassion and mindfulness. From there you’ll begin to  radiate true confidence from the core of your body. Expanding your spirit.

If for any reason, you feel like you live in a stressful environment. Or maybe you have never been supported in having habits that built you up for success. (A pattern of starting and doing good for awhile, but then falling off the bandwagon with your health habits – is a good indicator that you could use some extra support). 

I would love to support you. Reach out to me! 

I have several offerings outside of my Mindful Movement Membership. Like my Daily Routine 101 and/or Annual ticket coaching packages. I designed them to help you pivot out of sabotage and into life-long habits. 

Both of these coaching packages include the Mindful Movement Membership!! 

Pleasure and Joy Matter While You’re Moving

I repeat, pleasure and joy matter. They make life better. Less stressful. If you feel dissatisfied with your body. Ask yourself…

  • Do my movement routines initiate the feeling of joy?
  • Do they bring me pleasure?

If sitting at your desk job, or being sedentary for hours each and every day has been your norm; your mind is going to resist a new movement regime (like attending one of four OR all four of my mindful movement classes each week).

I’m sharing this to remind you not to take your initial resistance to change too personally. Most people have resistance to change. Yoga has a word to describe our patterned conditioning, it’s called samskara.

 

Your body has a series of complex chemical reactions going on all the time — without your knowing— this “behind the scenes” is what keeps your body functioning. And these chemical reactions can create negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. Or… they can facilitate uplifting thoughts.

You can begin to transition from an outdated lifestyle that you KNOW is heading down a hazardous path – towards the path of your integrity, strength, and delighted spirit! You CAN move towards your goals of losing excess weight and overcoming patterns of stress. When you make the shit, when you begin, your mind and body will naturally feel out of place. But you’ll also start to feel better. 

Discomfort at first is normal. Your mind will try and talk you out of doing the new things. BUT with time and your  commitment to show up (even after you skip a week) your system will rewire.

  • As a result, you’ll have more serotonin. This neurotransmitter helps you to naturally be more attuned to the foods that are best for you.  
  • Dopamine kicks on while you’re mindfully moving. Which stimulates the sensation of pleasure. It’s a reward chemical. You pull up that sensation after saving up to go on that trip you’ve been dreaming about. And after purchasing the ticket. 
  • Movement naturally emits endorphins. These block pain receptors in your brain. So if you have a sore lower back, I invite you to mindfully move with us. AND gain pleasure from your time with us.
  • You’ll walk away feeling less discomfort and more energy for the world. This will happen even faster when you invite curiosity and awareness into your movement. When you commit to care for yourself in this way, everyday. 
  • The chemical reactions and neurotransmitters in your brain help you open up to receiving love. And give love too. All of that will activate your master hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin has a trickle-down effect on all your other hormones. Insulin. Cortisol. And sex hormones.  

 

Experiencing pleasure and joy is ESSENTIAL to a balanced self-care routine. A healthy YOU ripples out into your community. Then beyond, into the world.

Hormonal and chemical benefits aside. My mindful movement classes build Interoception. Interoception activates your nervous system’s awareness of the inner landscape of your body. So Quality enteroception allows you to process your internal experience with ease and speed. Increasing your ability to respond to life with physical and emotional grace.

For example, being able to recognize the sensations in your body that pop up when you feel anxious. Butterflies in your stomach. When you sense a threat. Or when something has occurred that has triggered a body-memory of a threat (trauma). When you have a developed sense of enteroception you respond to your own reactions better. Which opens up space for you to give yourself the care you need.

All of this reduces overwhelm in your life. Then joy can have some room to expand.


Well my friend, you can read more about my mindful movement classes on my website. I’d love for you to join this community. It’d be an honor to support you in your joy, wisdom, and health.  Together, let’s explore the pleasure of movement.

p.s. A bit of housekeeping. The monthly membership subscription IS NOT a 52 week calendar year. I too am human. And I have vacation time factored in. So I wanted to alert you that this monthly subscription is currently 44 out of 52 weeks in the year at $45 (for the first 30 customers, then the price goes to $55).

Also, since this is a live stream class (over Zoom) there may be the occasional technical difficulties. I will do my best to communicate with you when these arise. I just want to be clear on expectations. There may be an off day or two.

p.s.s. My upcoming blog will go into my latest movement and yoga adventure. I completed my MovNat certification last year. I’m sure you have questions. So I’ll be breaking that down. In addition I’ll be announcing my upcoming Black Canyon nature trip in the desert, scheduled for February 2021!! So excited. Stay tuned!

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