On & Off The Mat – A Yoga Blog

by Christy DeBurton



When dealing with people who seem very unaware, remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening.


You may be someone who understands the true nature of reality, perceiving deeply that we all emanate from the same source, that we are all essentially one, and that we are here on earth to love one another. To understand this is to be awakened to the true nature of the self, and it is a blessing. Nevertheless, people who just don’t get it are seemingly everywhere and, often, in positions of power. It can be frustrating and painful to watch them behave unconsciously. We all encounter individuals of this bent in our families, at work, and in all areas of public life. It is easy to find ourselves feeling intolerant of these people, wishing we could be free of them even though we know that separation from them is an illusion.


It helps sometimes to think of us all as different parts of one psyche. Just as within our own hearts and minds we have dark places that need healing, the heart and mind of the world has its dark places. The health of the whole organism depends upon the relative health of the individuals within it. We increase harmony when we hold onto the light, not allowing it to be darkened by judgment, anger, and fear about those who behave unconsciously. It’s easier to accomplish this if we don’t focus on the negative qualities of individuals and instead focus on how increasing our own light will increase the light of the overall picture.


When dealing with people who seem very unconscious, it helps to remember that everyone must find their own way to awakening and that the experiences they are having are an essential part of their process. Holding them in the light of our own energy may be the best way to awaken theirs. At the same time, we are inspired by their example to look within and shed light on our own unconscious places, sacrificing the urge to judge and surrendering instead to humble self-inquiry.


I celebrated 20 years of teaching yoga yesterday by hosting about two dozen people for a pool party at The Yoga Room! The weather was perfect and everyone enjoyed sitting out on the patio or floating in the pool. We had a great spread of food (all vegan, of course!), highlighted by my favorite hummus, tabbouleh and baba ganouj from Palm Palace. A special thanks to everyone who helped out with additional food and beverages! It was so nice to see everyone–‘old’ students from when I first started teaching yoga in Ann Arbor, current students, and some yoga teacher friends–one of whom, Colette, is also celebrating 20 years of teaching yoga this year too! I wish I had more pictures from the event (and of everyone who was there) but I was too busy socializing to get that many. Nevertheless, here are some highlights. (You can click on the pictures for a slightly larger view.) Thanks again to all of you who attended and made my celebration so special!





In order to forgive, we need to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused to us.


When someone has hurt us, consciously or unconsciously, one of the most difficult things we have to face in resolving the situation is the act of forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier not to forgive and that the answer is to simply cut the person in question out of our lives. In some cases, ending the relationship may be the right thing to do, but even in that case, we will only be free if we have truly forgiven. If we harbor bitterness in our hearts against anyone, we only hurt ourselves because we are the ones harboring the bitterness. Choosing to forgive is choosing to alleviate ourselves of that burden, choosing to be free of the past, and choosing not to perceive ourselves as victims.


One of the reasons that forgiveness can be so challenging is that we feel we are condoning the actions of the person who caused our suffering, but this is a misunderstanding of what is required. In order to forgive, we simply need to get to a place where we are ready to stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused us. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, and our forgiveness of others is an extension of our readiness to let go of our own pain. Getting to this point begins with fully accepting what has happened. Through this acceptance, we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.


It can be helpful to articulate our feelings in writing over a period of days or even weeks. As we allow ourselves to say what we need to say and ask for what we need to heal, we will find that this changes each day. It may be confusing, but it is a sign of progress. At times we may feel as if we are slogging uphill through dense mud and thick trees, getting nowhere. If we keep going, however, we will reach a summit and see clearly that we are finally free of the past. From here, we recognize that suffering comes from suffering, and compassion for those who have hurt us naturally arises, enhancing our new perspective.




I just recently posted some information on the web site about my plan to lead another full-out 4-month Yoga Immersion Program here at The Yoga Room Winter 2019! (Click HERE for more details.) I thought I would share some pictures from one of the previous Yoga Immersions I lead back at the old studio, plus some testimonials from a handful of students who took part. (You can click on the pictures for a larger view!)


“My favorite things about the Yoga Immersion Program were having the opportunity to set aside a specific amount of time for personal exploration of yoga, and being able to interact with a like-minded group. Well thought out program. It made me desire more!”


“Thank you so much for your time and expertise. Was a great experience.”


“I jumped to take this under your teaching. Thank you for offering this – I definitely learned a lot, and deepened my awareness of the depth of yoga.”


“Studying the Yoga Sutras has deepened my practice and helped me understand why yoga makes me feel so good. Loved the books!”


“I especially enjoyed discussing the ‘nuts and bolts’ of teaching/designing a class. Posture alignment was one of the most helpful things to me of the entire course.”







Yoga Room Ann Arbor

Yoga Room Ann Arbor

Yoga Room Ann Arbor


The further you distance yourself from your expectations, the more exhilarating your life will become.


As we endeavor to find personal fulfillment and realize our individual ideals, we naturally form emotional attachments to those outcomes we hope will come to pass. These expectations can serve as a source of stability, allowing us to draft plans based on our visions of the future, but they can also limit our potential for happiness by blinding us to equally satisfying yet unexpected outcomes. Instead of taking pleasure in the surprising circumstances unfolding around us, we mourn for the anticipation left unfulfilled. When we think of letting go of our expectations, we may find ourselves at the mercy of a small inner voice that admonishes us to strive for specific goals, even if they continually elude us. However, the opposite of expectation is not pessimism. We can retain our optimism and free ourselves from the need to focus on specific probabilities by opening our hearts and minds to a wide variety of possible outcomes.


When we expect a situation, event, or confrontation to unfold in a certain way, it becomes more difficult to enjoy the surprises that have the potential to become profound blessings. Likewise, we may feel that we failed to meet our inner objectives because we were unable to bring about the desired results through our choices and actions. Consider, though, that we are all at the mercy of the universal flow, and our best intentions are often thwarted by fate. As you grow increasingly open to unforeseen outcomes, you will be more apt to look for and recognize the positive elements of your new circumstances. This receptivity to the unexpected can serve you well when you are called upon to compromise with others, your life plans seem to go awry, or the world moves forward in an unanticipated manner by granting you the flexibility to see the positive aspects of almost any outcome.


The further you distance yourself from your expectations, the more exhilarating your life will become. Though a situation in which you find yourself may not correspond to your initial wants, needs, or goals, ask yourself how you can make the most of it and then do your best to adapt. Your life’s journey will likely take many unpredicted and astonishing twists because you are willing to release your expectations.


yoga room ann arbor trees




You cannot control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own.


Hurtful confrontations often leave us feeling drained and confused. When someone attacks us emotionally, we may wonder what we did to rouse their anger, and we take their actions personally. We may ask ourselves what we could have done to compel them to behave or speak that way toward us. It’s important to remember that there are no real targets in an emotional attack and that it is usually a way for the attacker to redirect their uncomfortable feelings away from themselves. When people are overcome by strong emotions, like hurt or anguish, they may see themselves as victims and lash out at others as a means of protection or to make themselves feel better. You may be able to shield yourself from an emotional attack by not taking the behavior personally. First, however, it is good to cultivate a state of detachment that can provide you with some protection from the person who is attacking you. This will allow you to feel compassion for this person and remember that their behavior isn’t as much about you as it is about their need to vent their emotions.


If you have difficulty remaining unaffected by someone’s behavior, take a moment to breathe deeply and remind yourself that you didn’t do anything wrong, and you aren’t responsible for people’s feelings. If you can see that this person is indirectly expressing a need to you–whether they are reaching out for help or wanting to be heard–you may be able to diffuse the attack by getting them to talk about what is really bothering them.


You cannot control other people’s emotions, but you can control your own. If you sense yourself responding to their negativity, try not to let yourself. Keep your heart open to them, and they may let go of their defensiveness and yield to your compassion and openness.






Your aversion to some people may actually be your response to fear that specific qualities you see in them also exist within you.


As much as most of us wish we could exist in harmony with the people we encounter throughout our lives, there will always be individuals we dislike. Some simply rub us the wrong way while others strike us as deliberately unaware. We may judge others as too mean or abrasive for us to interact with them comfortably. Yet no person should be deemed a villain because their beliefs, opinions, mannerisms, and mode of being are not compatible with your own. You need not embrace the rough traits they have chosen to embody. There may be times in which the best course of action involves distancing yourself from someone you dislike. But circumstances may require that you spend time in the company of individuals who awaken your aversion. In such cases, you can ease your discomfort by showing your foe loving compassion while examining your feelings carefully.


The reasons we dislike some individuals are often complex and, at first, indecipherable. Often, we are automatically averse to people who are different because they compel us to question our values, spirituality, culture, and ideologies, threatening to undermine our self-assurance. Realistically, however, those you dislike have no power to weaken your life’s foundations. In fact, your aversion to specific individuals may actually be your response to your fear that specific qualities you see in them also exist within you. Their presence may force you to face internal issues you would rather not confront. If you meet someone who inspired an intense, largely negative response in you, ask yourself why your reaction is so laden with powerful emotions. Remember that you control your feelings and, if necessary, you can minimize this individual’s impact on your well-being by choosing how you will respond to them.


Though you may not have an immediate breakthrough, your willingness to consider your dislike rationally can help you better understand the root of your feelings. Your aversion to certain individuals may not wane over time, yet the comprehension you gain through reflection can help you interact with them sympathetically, benevolently, and with a greater degree of kindness. There is nothing wrong with recognizing that you are incompatible with some people. You may never achieve a shared harmony with those you dislike, but you can nonetheless learn to modulate your reactions to these individuals and, ultimately, to coexist peacefully with them.


What should I wear, what should I bring, and when should I arrive for my first yoga class?

You may want to bring a yoga mat, water bottle, a perhaps a hand towel. If you don’t have a mat I have extras here students may borrow until they get their own. If you use props in your practice (blocks, straps, etc.) please bring them. Fitted exercise clothing is recommended. Yoga is practiced in bare feet. First-timers should get to the studio 10 minutes before class starts to meet your yoga instructor and ask any questions. Please bring your Session Intention form that you were sent with you so that your instructor can go over it with you before class begins. Please, no cell phones in the studio (even if they are off). 


Is there a place to change or shower?
Yes, there is a bathroom with a shower at the studio.


Why should I choose The Yoga Room over other yoga studios?
First, owner and instructor Christy DeBurton has over two decades of teaching experience! Also, we take a unique approach with our weekly classes by designing two-month sessions around a specific theme – Study of the Chakras, Spring Cleaning for Body & Mind, Yoga for Core Strength & Balance, the 7 Spiritual Laws of Yoga – so that students learn much more than just yoga poses each time they come to class. Class sizes are small at our private studio– a maximum of 7 students–so that each student is able to receive individual attention. Finally, the yoga studio is an experience in itself, a charming ‘cottage’ in a quiet, garden setting with a high ceiling, cork floor, and lots of windows overlooking the swimming pool and pine trees.


Why do students have to sign up for a session of classes?

You don’t have to sign up for a full session, but most people do as there is a specific theme to the session and often the classes build upon one another. If you sign up for the full session you are also guaranteed a spot; since classes have a maximum of 7 students in them this is your safest bet to be able to get into a class every week. I run my classes in sessions because to see the benefits of yoga you need to make a regular commitment to it. It is hard for us humans to be disciplined sometimes, and this is a good way to hold yourself accountable.


What if I have to miss a class during a session?

Students are welcome to make up any classes they miss in the same session for which they’re registered. You just have to cancel the class you can’t attend at least 2 hours in advance or else you forfeit your make-up. I have a handy Student Class Management/Online Booking System that helps you with this.


Why is there a fragrance policy at The Yoga Room?
We ask students to refrain from wearing fragrances or scented products (lotions, perfumes, deodorants, hairspray, fabric softeners, etc.) to class, and if you’ve bought a new mat, consider airing it out before bringing it to class, because some of us have sensitivities to synthetic fragrances and chemicals. No fragrances means EVERYONE can take nice deep yoga breaths!


How do I sign up for a session of classes?
Please contact me directly at info@christydeburton.com to check on class availability and request to be put on our email list to find out about upcoming sessions.


How do I sign up to drop in and/or just try out a class?
Please contact me directly at info@christydeburton.com to check on class availability for drop-ins if you do not already have an account for my online booking system. If you are interested I can also create an account for you.


Can I attend your yoga classes if I’ve never done yoga before? What is a good first class to try?
Absolutely! Our classes range in challenge from gentler to more advanced. We recommend those who have never taken yoga before start with a Hatha class. PM Hatha is gentler than AM.


What if I’m not that flexible?
Yoga actually promotes flexibility. You don’t have to be flexible to start doing yoga. During the workday, much of our activity, or lack thereof, shortens muscles. Think about how often you either sit at a desk, in your car or at home. Yoga lengthens and strengthens muscles while helping release stress. Becoming more flexible is a great benefit of yoga, but even more than that, yoga helps us to live more powerfully and peacefully in body, mind and spirit. This gain happens regardless of whether or not you can touch your toes!


What are heat levels like in yoga classes?
I do not have a set temperature I keep the studio at. I believe in moderation and energy conservation. Therefore, you will not find the heat cranked in the winter or the AC blowing full-blast in the summer. I keep the studio at a comfortable temperature for most people year round. I encourage students to wear layers and regulate their own body temperature.


Is there a minimum age to attend classes at The Yoga Room?
I recommend parents wait until their children are 12 years old to attend. Those 12 to 15 must practice with a parent or guardian. If parents would like to bring a younger child, please contact me to ask about using the loft space for the two of you during a class.


How many classes a week should I take?
A successful yoga practice requires discipline, consistency and commitment. To experience the true benefits of a yoga practice, I recommend taking at least one yoga class a week year round. Some of my students take two classes a week with me, and some even take three! The more you are able to take, the more benefits you will see.





What Makes People Tick?


Many people are very different from ourselves and coming to a place of acceptance can make the road easier.


All people have their own way of being in the world. It is easiest to comprehend this basic yet profound fact when we consider that every human being on the planet occupies a distinct role in the universe. We grow up in different environments, affected by a unique range of influences. The preferences, values, and beliefs we embrace are frequently related intimately to our origins. And the need to individualize our experiences is instinctive, as doing so enables us to cope when we must face challenges on our own. Consequently, each of us has developed a perspective that is uniquely ours. Interacting peacefully and constructively with people from all walks of life is a matter of first understanding where they are coming from. Then we can adjust our expectations so that we avoid making undue assumptions about what they are about.


In the face of emerging interpersonal conflict, it is easy to assume that others are being difficult, unreasonable, or stubborn. We are apt to grow frustrated when someone in our environment does not share our opinions or feel compelled to support us in our endeavors. It is likely that the individual or individuals before us may simply possess differing notions with regard to what is and what is not important in this life. We can ease the tension that exists between us by reaffirming our belief in the fundamental right of all beings to determine their own destinies. To foster a harmonious relationship, we need to do our best to relate to the unique universes they inhabit. And as we discover what makes them tick, our ability to find a mode of interaction that is pleasing to both of us is enhanced.


When there are barriers keeping you from connecting with someone else, think of questions you can ask them to gain a more thorough understanding of their point of view. You may discover that in addition to the differences in perspective dividing you, they are subject to insecurities and other personal issues that influence their way of seeing the world. It is likely that you will never fully grasp the myriad complexities embodied by humanity, but you can go a long way toward encouraging mutually satisfying relations by reaching out to others in the spirit of sympathetic comprehension.