Gwen Mihaljevich
Embodiment Workshop: Understanding Tension
Wake Up, Grow Up, Clean Up, Show Up
Embodiment Workshop: Understanding Tension - Gwen Mihaljevich

Location: West Bucktown, 2528 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647.

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Understanding Tension


Saturday Apr 29
1-3pm

regular: $30
member: $24

In this Forrest yoga asana practice we will discuss, and more importantly, experience how tension is primarily a mechanism of experience regulation. When an occurrence is particularly unpleasant, there is a strong tendency to freeze and resort to finding familiar ground again; thinking and feeling are de-coupled. We literally harden our body to no longer feel. The behavior is neither bad nor is it a pollutant to the body. It plays an instinctual and necessary function for our survival. It undergirds our ability to fight/flee/freeze. Understanding the role tension plays in how we learn [about ourselves, our environment, others], enables us to work with it respectfully. As we start to work with tension in the body, we necessarily work with the conditioned responses that have been firing with and wired to it. As we inhabit our body, and the information flows freely again, we contact a fundamental sense of aliveness. In this process of yoga and becoming gradually aware of tension and restrictions in our body, we have a way to connect with who we really are. In learning to work with and release tension we learn to trust the body as the basic ground of our awareness and this authentically self-aware state of being.

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." --Proverb

We will learn:

  • To track impulse > sensation > emotion > thoughts in the body
  • How feedback loops keep us “frozen” energetically and physiologically
  • Best practices for working with out-of-date survival strategies
  • To use breath and awareness to soften structures that support no-longer-needed habits


About Gwen Mihaljevich

Gwen is a Chicago-based practitioner, works primarily in the healing arts and yogic traditions and has for 12 years under the auspice of Ana Forrest. With an academic foundation in music performance and therapy, her interests include deep study in addiction and recovery, behavioral development, nutrition, sports psychology, epigenetics, zazen, and integral leadership.

"My intent always is to use my unique gifts, talents, and perspective, both as a practitioner and teacher, to aid in the growth, development, and healing of my students and those in my care. To do so with dignity, I believe, is to honor both my teachers’ mission statements as well as my own: to work toward the greater unfolding of spirit in action."


About the Presenters

Allison English:

Allison English is a certified Forrest Yoga Instructor. She is the former National Director of Content and Education for Pure Yoga Teacher Training (US) and a widely sought after Teacher Trainer. She has completed over 1000 hours of training through the Foundation and Advanced Forrest Yoga Teacher Certification Programs. She was voted “Best Yoga Instructor – Chicago” in 2008 and has regularly appeared in publications, blogs, and fundraising events as a leading yoga instructor in the Chicago community.
Continuing to advance her teaching skills and intensify her personal practice, she regularly travels around the world to attend workshops, teacher trainings, and intensive practices with her guru Ana Forrest. She is also a traveling Assistant to Ana Forrest.
Allison’s classes focus on connecting to the strength of the core, deepening the flow and energy of the breath, and realizing the power of a yoga practice to transform her students in mind, body and Spirit. She has experience teaching to a wide variety of levels, assessing physical limitations, and tailoring yoga to prevent and treat a variety of illnesses and injuries.
Compassionately constructed pose sequences in combination with guided breath-work and expert hands-on adjustments will take you on a fantastic journey through the joys of a yoga practice – awakening your senses, opening new space in your body and enlivening your Spirit.
Learn more and swing by a practice mat with her at yogabyallison.com.

Anna Schabold:

Anna Schabold is dedicated to the healing arts and has practiced Forrest Yoga for 12 years. She is also a certified Structural Integration Therapist, budding Herbalist, and enthusiastic somanaut, exploring the mysteries within our bodies using hands-on techniques, deep breathing, and focused attention to feeling and witnessing the connection of body-mind-spirit. Anna desires to help others realize that yoga is for every body, and to facilitate your quest for health and radiant wellness, all while having a lot of fun while we journey together towards our most authentic selves. When not on the yoga mat, you might find her wrestling with the Chicago Mud Queens, rocking out to live music, or quietly basking in the beauty of Nature.

Bridget Boland:

Bridget Boland is a shamanic energy healer certified by The Four Winds, award-winning author of The Doula, Forrest Yoga teacher, birth and death coach, and former attorney. Bridget strives to provide a sanctuary for students to explore their emotional, energetic and physical landscapes through breath, movement and energetic processes to help them create extraordinary, empowered and exquisite lives.

Carol Horton, Ph.D:

Carol Horton, Ph.D., is the author or editor of five books: Yoga Ph.D., 21st Century Yoga, Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans, Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System, and Race and the Making of American Liberalism. Carol serves as Vice President of the Yoga Service Council and was a co-founder of Chicago’s Socially Engaged Yoga Network. She has taught yoga in Cook County Jail, a drop-in center for homeless women, a residential foster care facility, a community health center, and several independent studios. An ex-political science professor, she holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago. For more information, visit her website, www.carolhortonphd.com

Marjorie Fradin:

I never was a gymnast, cheerleader, or dancer. In fact, movement wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed once I hit adolescence. I moved only to burn calories, and exercise was something I endured when I was on a diet. Coming from the mindset of “no pain, no gain,” I pushed my body, ignored signals of pain, and wound up injuring myself repeatedly with very little to show for it. But I wasn’t any different from most of the people I knew. As an attorney first, and then as a pastry chef, my peers took pride in working brutal hours and pushing themselves toward the never-ending goal of perfection. Whether it was a legal brief or a croissant, good wasn’t enough. If it wasn’t perfect, it was wrong.
Looking back, it’s no surprise that I hated my first yoga experience. I remember lying on the floor, breathing, and being upset that I had to pay for a babysitter when I could have been feeling the burn on the treadmill instead. I stuck with it but was the one who left before savasana, the one who upleveled her poses, the one who stacked classes back to back because I wanted to get better at what I thought yoga was. Even as a teacher, it took at least five years and two injured shoulders and hamstrings before I really believed that yoga was something more than asana, that my search for perfection was not only pointless but contrary to what I was teaching. Yoga doesn’t allow for perfection. There is no finish line or report card. There is just the moment, the practice, and yourself. It calls for a complete paradigm shift, and that’s a scary thought if you’ve been using external validation to get through life. But it’s worth it. Oh yes….it’s definitely worth it.
practice, both yoga and life, I’ve been lucky enough to study with teachers who’ve taught me so much. Those who’ve influenced me deeply include Ana Forrest, Leanne Carey, and Leslie Riley, but there are so many others as well—Rich Logan, Gabriel Halpern, Annie Carpenter, Jasmine Lieb, Jason Crandall, Rusty Wells, and Seane Corn are just a start. I also draw from other modalities, like strength training and somatic movement, in my classes. And Daren Friesen, my first teacher, gave me a gentle push out the door with an offer I couldn’t refuse—a teaching slot at Moksha Yoga in Chicago—and which made this reluctant teacher spread her wings.
My experience has colored, and continues to color, my teaching. I encourage students to explore the edges of their comfort zones, whether that means pushing a little harder, backing off a little bit, or just breathing more deeply. Classes with me are sweaty with longer holds and a strong focus on the core and proper alignment. Nothing is mandatory except for a sense of humor and a modicum of curiosity. But in each class, regardless of its focus, size, or level, there is one recurring theme: yoga is an organic process rather than a series of poses. Although the asana connects us more deeply to our yoga, it’s not an end in and of itself. It’s what happens before, during, and after the asana that brings us closer to our true selves.