New Qi Gong Classes in Breckenridge!

From May 15th through to the end of Summer 2012 I’ll teach two classes a week at Meta Yoga Studio in Breckenridge Colorado.

Mondays at 8:45am (Qi Gong)

Thursdays 6:45pm (Restorative Yoga)

You can follow along with a free sample class on the video section here.

What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is an ancient Taoist practice which means “cultivating energy”. Tai Chi is a form of Qi Gong with a series of continuous flowing movements that combine into a form. In Qi Gong we repeat the individual movements, making it easy to learn and relax into a meditative state. My classes start with warm up exercises such as shaking, swinging, stretching and knocking to wake up the body and release anything that is unwanted. There are joint rotation and relaxation exercises that teach us to move from our core, and to relax our shoulders and arms. Then we go into flowing movements where we use minimal effort to make circular movements that mimic the energy flow in our body. I end with self-massage to leave you in a relaxed state of vitality for your day.

How will it help my ability to Ski?

Improved balance, reduced recovery time,  and learning to use the least amount of effort necessary, to increase endurance. My classes focus a lot on bringing awareness into the feet, and working with the structure and alignment of the ankles with the knees,  with the hips, with the spine, and with the shoulders and head. Then next time you have a skiing lesson, you will have increased body awareness, and will be able to respond easily to instructions from your teacher, allowing you to progress and get the most out of your ski vacation!

What if I’m not flexible or strong?

Unlike power vinyasa styles of yoga, Qi gong is suitable for every body, young and old. Qi Gong is prescribed to patients in Chinese Hospitals, and is the perfect exercise for seniors and elderly population. The fluid motions, and flowing movements help to pump lymph, increasing immune function and reducing the risk of injury because it’s performed slow and mindfully.

I’ve tried meditation before, but it’s too hard. Will my mind be too busy for Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is a great way to focus your mind on your body, and release mental stress and worry. Meditation can be difficult to jump into, as the mind finds it difficult to focus on one thing(or nothing) for a long time. With Qi Gong, the mind is focused on the movement of the body, and the flow of the breath.  The class will also include many exercises to release mental and physical tension(shaking, swinging, and knocking) before we go into the more meditative flowing movements. If you find yourself in Breckenridge Colorado, stop by Meta Yoga Studios on Ridge St. and join me for a Qi Gong class. Mondays at 9am or Fridays at 4pm. I also offer private lessons, and you can find out about my massage services here. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have about my classes or other services. Travis 831-588-5833    

My Career Transition to Massage — Toastmasters

My second speech for Toastmasters.

My Career Transition to Massage Therapy from Travis Usinger on Vimeo.

I describe my story of moving from a career in film to massage therapy, and incorporate tips to help you to discover and transition to a career you’re passionate about. The points are: 1. brainstorm all options and see which path feels right 2. Research the training needed  3. Immersion in a training program 4. Find a mentor to learn from and 5. Give your services to the community Last year I was in college for film in a city that I didn’t connect with, working lighting, sound and projection for local events. I was unsure of my purpose, and as I looked forward to working as an editor for production films, I knew I would have to move to Los Angeles, and that I would be working on projects that I wasn’t passionate about. This was frustrating and disappointing to say the least, I hated living in a city, and didn’t want to move to a bigger one. While I was finishing college, I decided to work on time management, and in my free time I would journal about discovering and following a new career path. If you’re interested in making a career change, my story may help you to incorporate the shift in perspective necessary to transition to a new career. The method that I followed in finding a new career was to brainstorm all my options, see which path felt right, research the training needed, immerse myself in a training program, find a mentor to learn from, and give my services to the community. To discover your options I would write about any career paths that you think you could be passionate about. I wrote about everything from creating documentaries or facilitating and creating visual aids for speakers, to completely different careers like organic farming, massage and teaching yoga. After I’ve created this mix of different careers, I would read each one, look within to my heart, and notice how I feel being identified with that career. In order to figure out which career path feels right, I recommend choosing 3 or 4 options, writing a couple hundred words on each one, and envisioning it as already completed. I wrote this one year ago: “I am a role model for physical health. I do yoga daily, eat a healthy vegan diet and receive massage at least once a week. My clients are interested in being healthier and living with more inner peace and fulfillment. I show them yoga streches and give massage. I also hold a donation based yoga and meditation class for friends and clients. I have a blog where I share my goals and experiences in discovering my purpose and improving myself. I join a support group of massage therapists. We discuss how to create a welcoming atmosphere at your studio, how to build a good website, and other topics. I have plenty of time to myself for journaling, meditation, reading, and relaxation.” After reading this I felt joyous, enthusiastic and ready to start my journey. Now what I needed to do in the process was to learn more about the career through research and “testing the waters” to see if I’m truly passionate. I looked online for possible massage schools and training, I read blogs from successful massage therapists and bought books and DVDs so I could learn basic massage techniques. I interviewed successful massage therapists and learned more about their lifestyles and the strengths and hardships of being a massage therapist. I attended a weekend massage course at the Esalen institute in Big Sur a couple months later to discover if this was my true passion. I touched a dozen different bodies and souls and found the meditative style of Esalen massage to complement my introspective nature, and I loved it. The next step was to immerse myself in a complete training program with peer interaction and insightful teachers. That Summer I enrolled in a massage program in Santa Cruz that would allow me to be a licensed massage practitioner in California. I became very close to my classmates in massage school, receiving and giving massage three to five times a week and evaluating each other’s technique. The teachers were very helpful, answering any questions we had, and providing a demo massage session at the beginning of every class. It’s also very important to learn from someone more experienced, who has been successful in your career choice. The massage therapist that first inspired me to massage became my mentor, and I would trade massage with him once a week, showing him what I learned, receiving feedback, and learning new techniques from him. I saw my skills and expertise grow, and I was excited to have return clients and to continue to trade massage and learn more. After the two month training program, having become competent in giving massage, the next step was to give my services to the community to raise awareness of my new found career. I gave my services to seniors at a community center, at pool parties, Aids bike rides, and to friends and family. I shared a massage studio with a friend, and was building a client base while I continued my education in the fall, learning deep tissue and Thai massage techniques. Now this Winter I’m at the point where it’s time to re-evaluate, and discover where my career path will take me next. I will complete the 550 hour massage program in Santa Cruz, and will be nationally certified by next summer. I am starting this career path method over again, feeling inspired to become a yoga teacher. I have brainstormed, and feel the path of a yoga teacher is my next step. I’m now researching what it means to be a yoga teacher by going to yoga classes daily at the studio in Breckenridge, interviewing yoga teachers, and discovering the differences in how they teach. I am open to opportunity, and looking for a yoga teacher training program to immerse myself in for the Fall. After the program I will find an inspiring mentor, and give donation based yoga classes to the community. Maybe you’re in a similar situation whether it’s time to expand your current career options, or maybe you need to change directions completely like I did this last year. Where is your career path taking you? Is it time to re-evaluate and envision a new future?

Mind mapping and Brainstorms

I’ve been creating Mind maps to let all of my thoughts on a subject out of my head. I’ve used it for my speech I gave for Toastmasters, for blog ideas, for ideas on redesigning my website, and other projects that I’m working on. For me a mind map looks like a spider web brainstorm on a topic. You put the main topic in the middle (like “Vacation to Hawaii”) and then draw lines going to different ideas on the subject (Places to stay, beaches to visit, hikes, ect) and then from those ideas you write more detailed about those subjects (Places to stay → Friends house in Waipio Valley, Brothers farm, Vacation home in Puna). I’ve enjoyed the freedom that it gives me to write non-linear. I can start a random tangent by drawing another line from the circle, or I can go back and elaborate on something I wrote on earlier. I can let my critical mind take the back seat as I flow and write whatever comes to mind. Associations come up, random thoughts come up, and by the end of writing I have much more information and content than if I had tried to write in a linear (A, B, C, D) kind of way. One limitation that I’ve experienced with this way of brainstorming is how it can be difficult to find enough space to write what you want. Once I’ve finished a mind map the page will be crowded and littered. I have to review it within a couple days so that I’ll be able to remember what I was writing. Organizing all of the information is difficult as well, because I don’t want to lose information that might be useful later. I’ve learned to pick and choose what is relevant, and file the rest into a reference folder or throw it away. Here is an example of how I do my mind maps. Each bubble off of the center is an idea for articles to write, and ways to create content for my blog. I’ll spend between 15-30 minutes on one mind map. After I’ve completed it I can see what areas have the most content and ideas. For these ideas where the words keep on flowing I will change gears after my brainstorm(within a few days), and start typing up ideas from the mind map on that one topic. I will write as much as I can about the topic, staying in the free associating right brain. After I have some content I bring in my critical mind, and observe what is truly useful. I edit, cut, replace, rewrite, and rethink my writing until I have a final product. This last section can take between 30 minutes to 3 hours or more depending on the length and depth of the content involved. Other than brainstorming blog ideas, what other ways can mind mapping be useful? It can be great for thinking of how you want to redesign your bathroom, the activities on your next vacation, writing down habits you would like to adopt, planning your week, and any situation where you have many ideas you would like to express on paper. I also believe brainstorming can be a great way to get clutter out of your mind. Sometimes I’ll find myself thinking about a certain topic and repeating myself throughout the day. Once I let myself write about it, and get all of my thoughts out there, I will have a quieter mind. If you have good techniques on brainstorming, found good mind mapping software, or have any thoughts on this article, feel free to leave a comment.

“My Lesson to the World” IceBreaker Speech for Toastmasters

My Lesson to the World Speech [display_podcast] I gave my first Toastmasters speech today. After weeks of brainstorming, outlining, and half a dozen times recording myself practicing my speech, I’ve given my final presentation. There were about twice as many people as the first time I visited the group, and I was the first to give my speech. Overall I felt it was a great experience, much different than being a guest. I felt the community aspect and had great comments and feedback on my speaking abilities. The other speeches given were very inspiring, and I signed up to give another speech in two weeks. The Transcript I wrote for my speech is below: Everyone has a lesson to teach. This is your life’s purpose, why you are here, and what you will show others. A combination of genetics, family upbringing, life experiences, and the way you identify yourself creates this unique perspective from which you can teach from. Every speech that is given is a lesson, even humorous or entertaining speeches teach us to laugh more, and can have deeper meanings behind them. We’re all learning from each other, and teaching each other at every toastmasters meeting we attend. Today I will discuss what I believe my lesson to teach the world is, and what I hope to learn from Toastmasters and all of you. I have lived most of my life in nature, being surrounded by the tropical jungles of Hawaii while a child, the towering redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains as a teenager, and now in the majestic mountains of Summit county. I believe these settings help me see the beauty and peace in nature that can seem to be void in urban cities and lifestyles. The presence of nature helps me to see how small our everyday problems are in comparison. This has helped me to pay less attention the trivial, stress inducing patterns that are so common in modern day society. This last year I’ve been training in massage, yoga, and Qi Gong, and have found these to be great ways to connect with your body, become more present, and enjoy the peace of nature. Through massage I’m able to connect with someone, bring them into a meditative state, and help them release unnecessary tension and holding in their body. All of these exercises are great for releasing stress, and allowing your body and mind to come back to a natural state of peace. I’ve always been a very introspective person. For example I’ve attended a 10 day silent meditation retreat, spent months practicing lucid dreaming techniques, and hours writing and journaling on visions of my future. I believe that everyone could benefit from looking within more. A lot of people skip this step and do whatever other people think they “should” be doing, whether that is going to college, getting a job they dislike, or living in a city they don’t enjoy. I want to teach people how to find the passion within themselves, to discover their individual meaning of life, and to fulfill their deepest desires. How will Toastmasters help me to teach these lessons? I want to learn how to connect with people within minutes, talking with passion, freedom, and inspiring others to act. I want to be able to share my personality fully on my blog, expressing myself through video, audio, and writing. I want to teach people Yoga postures, Qi Gong exercises, and self-massage techniques through how-to videos. Overall I want to believe in myself and learn how to proudly and truthfully express myself to the world. Now… Take a Breath. Look within yourself. Ask: What do I have to teach the world – and how does Toastmasters help?

Plane Delayed – What a great opportunity to connect!

People are sitting, waiting to board the plane, the captain comes over the intercom:
“Sorry but the fire warning light is on, we’ll have to have a mechanic come and check it out. I’m not sure how long it will take”
Groans and sighs emerge from the crowd, thumbs are busily dialing cell phones, they’re complaining to one another about how inconvenient this is, and how they had to wake up too early. I put my book away, stand up and start doing Yoga and Qi Gong exercises. The flight was early and I had skipped my usual morning exercise routine, so I decided to make up for it with the extra time I was given by the flight being delayed. You can tell from my last airplane post how much I see traveling as a great transition time to evaluate where you are and to do some great introspection and writing. I understand why people are initially upset by the plane being delayed. Their expectations were different than their reality ended up putting out. After doing all the actions possible; calling a friend who was going to pick you up, asking the steward about alternate flights, and of course updating your Facebook status, there is no reason to worry about it anymore. Many people kept on complaining, sitting and arguing with the steward. It looked as if steam was going to come out of their ears as they tapped their food on the ground and twiddled their fingers on their phone. In such a time of limbo, you should be thankful that you get the time to be with yourself. I find stretching and Qi Gong to be beneficial, because sitting for such long periods of time is a major cause of back pain and bad posture. After practicing for about 15 minutes, someone asked me if I was doing yoga, and started talking to me about her favorite postures. Another woman heard us talking, and recognized me from a yoga class we had together earlier that week. We started doing sun salutations together and talking about our favorite teachers. I’ve learned a new lesson: Airports can also be a great time to connect with people. On a typical day at the airport, crowds of people hardly even recognize the existence of one another. People push past to be first onto the escalator, in TSA screening people stand in line for up to an hour and never learn the name of the person in front of or behind them, on the plane itself people sit for hours and the only contact with their neighbor is to ask if they can get out to use the restroom. On your next flight, talk to the person in front of you in the TSA line. See if the person seated next to you is going home or on an adventure somewhere new. Try doing yoga before boarding time, and see if others will join you. Put yourself out there, and reach out to someone new.

Challenging myself: Joining Toastmasters

This week I’ve joined toastmasters public speaking group. I’m scheduled to give an icebreaker speech on February 1st.

Challenging myself

Naturally I’m very introspective. Writing is much easier than speaking for me, and I’m more comfortable socializing in a group of 2 or 3 than a party of 30 or 40 people. Now I’m taking a stand for the new year. I’m doing something that is difficult for me, so that I will be better prepared and more able to express myself to the world.

What do I hope to learn from Toastmasters?

I hope to learn how to be more open and talk freely and confidently while describing myself, my habits, and my services. I wish to be able to creatively and concisely share lessons with the world, using my public speaking skills to help give yoga and qi gong classes. I want to learn how to clear my speech of the filler words that come up when my mind busily tries to find the correct word to express myself. I also wish to meet new people in the process, being able to teach and learn from each other.

How will I use these skills for this website?

I plan on making my website a lot more personal. I want you to be able to listen to the passion in my voice when I talk about things I love, to become motivated by watching me teaching yoga and qi gong, and to experience who I am on more than a textual basis. You will see a lot more videos that will accompany the blog posts. You will listen to interviews and Dharma lectures by Travis.

How will you challenge yourself this year?

If you’re already extroverted, try going to a group meditation. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, living a sedentary lifestyle, try going to a yoga class. If you eat out frequently, meet with a friend who cooks and learn to cook a new meal with them. If you’ve always wanted to write and share yourself with the world, start a blog.

Gratitude and Growth of 2010

This time every year people tend to look back on the best of the previous year, and look forward to set intentions for the new year. I recommend you take credit for the hard work and accomplishments of the year, and realize how much you’ve learned and grown. The last year I feel I’ve gone through tremendous growth and change. I left a school that wasn’t inspiring me, saved money to pay for massage school. I became active in creating the change I wanted, knowing that I no longer wanted to go to San Jose State. During my free time I would journal about my desires and visions of career paths, websites to create, and habits I wanted to incorporate into my life. Winter I knew I didn’t want to go to San Jose State anymore, and set a date to leave: June of this year. I decided to do my best, earn money, and learn as much as I could in the time that I was there. I learned a lot about time management, creating weekly goals and time sheets to manage school, work, and personal development. I started to do yoga, the gym, and cardio. I discovered Lucid dreaming, meditation, and Mantak Chia’s the multi orgasmic man book. These served as a great introduction to the metaphysical arts. Spring I became inspired by Steve Pavlina’s writing on self-discipline and started waking up at 6am, successfully converting to a morning person. I started going to a weekly meditation group and as part of my transition from San Jose State to massage school I went to a 10 day Vipassana retreat, which changed my perspective on meditation. I also started this blog and shared my goals and desires with the world. Summer In July I went to Steve Pavlina’s Conscious Growth Workshop and met other inspiring people and reaffirmed my passion for growth and learning. In July and August I completed a 250-hour massage training intensive and expanded my social circle and became four times as sociable and open to new people. Fall I continued my massage education, becoming proficient and finding passion with Thai massage. I continued to take classes in Qi Gong, which I had started in the summer, and met Lee Holden. I’ve started to work with him on his videos, and have learned much about Qi Gong movements and becoming sensitive to the life energy in my body. For the Winter I will be primarily living in Breckenridge Colorado during the winter months. I plan on doing a lot of studying on Qi Gong, web design, and the national massage exam. I will work to redesign this website, creating a custom wordpress theme. I will also be launching a website that will be a community resource for massage therapists and body workers. I see this next year being even better than the last, with many lessons for me to learn, and more for me to teach as well.

How to Overcome Disappointments

This week I discovered that the yoga teacher training program I planned on doing from January through April is cancelled. I had already bought a ticket to see their open house, but when I arrived no one was there and the door was locked. This was disappointing for me, as it’s less than 3 weeks before classes would’ve started and now I have to re-envision my winter months. What’s the best way to react to such undesired changes? *Allow yourself to be upset/sad/angry Feel the emotions and write out all the reasons you are unhappy about the change of events. Journal about why you’re angry and allow yourself to vent for a few hours. Acknowledge the feelings, and feel them for as long as it is still serving you. It’s probably not helpful to stay angry for more than a few days. *Observe the hidden meaning “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell After learning that my yoga program was cancelled, I researched all of the yoga schools near Denver and Santa Cruz, where my two homes are. Any time I found a school that interested me, it was either too far from my home, or didn’t work with my schedule. I interpreted this difficulty in finding a yoga school to be the universe telling me I should be studying something else this winter. I’ve been practicing Qi Gong the last few months and I’ve found a few synchronicities around learning that. I found a book at the studio where I practice Qi Gong. I was able to borrow it and I found out that the author of that book lives near my home in Colorado. *Envision, Write, Imagine Create as many alternate situations as you can think of. After you’ve written all of the possible outcomes, read each one, and compare how you feel after reading it. Once you read a vision and you feel a bright, energizing or passionate sensation in your heart you can begin to follow that path. Take the first few steps, and see if you receive a positive response from the universe. Possible options for me include focusing on webdesign or photography at the community college, studying Qi Gong/Tai Chi, developing strength/flexibility in my body, and/or networking and meeting people in Colorado. This list will continue to change as the weeks go by, but I can start by researching teachers who teach Qi Gong in my area, and go to their classes. If I find someone I connect well with, and our schedules work out, then I know that the universe is sending me a “green light” on that path. If you find yourself continually being shot down with your requests, keep trying until something works out. At the most unlikely time you may meet a stranger who connects you with the perfect situation/job/school. *Share you experience If you had a bad experience with an employer/school/business, express it. You could write a review on yelp, email the business owner, and/or tell your friends who might be interested in working with them. Write factually about your experience, try not to criticize or call people names. Write about what happened to you, what you didn’t enjoy, and how it could’ve been better. *Let go and allow your new future to manifest Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel disappointed, shared your experience, and found an alternate path, let go of the past disapointment and look towards the new direction you’re heading in. It’s easy to complain about how things could’ve been different, and how “only if” that had worked out, but let it go and see what is possible and desire-able in your current situation.

Confident being Vulnerable

In order to accept positive change into our lives we must become confident being vulnerable. When you are comfortable with the vulnerability, you are able to do what it takes to achieve your goals, even if the short term results might be negative. If you dislike your present reality but are unable to make yourself vulnerable your fears will stop you from achieving success. Some fears are more rational than others, like a fear that you won’t be able to feed and house your family if you quit your job, but irrational fears of public speaking, and social rejection have no physical impact and hold you back. You must realize which fears are irrational, and overcome those fears gradually. At the Conscious Growth Workshop I went to last July we had courage exercises where we were asked to perform awkward social interactions with people we didn’t know. The list of interactions included asking for phone numbers, asking for a free drink, asking for a job as a stripper, and giving hugs and dancing with strangers. The idea was to make us more comfortable with a situation that previously would’ve had us hesitant and timid. To learn that the fear of social rejection is only created in our minds and that rejection can do nothing to harm us. That weekend workshop was an intensive for blasting away fears, but you can gradually do this by creating weekly goals that increase in difficulty each week. In terms of social rejection, the first week you could meet someone new every day. Then you could join a stranger for lunch, invite someone you found attractive to a date, assert your special diet(Vegan, no sweets, gluten free) in a situation with social pressure, speak in public at a toastmaster’s meeting and continue performing the exercises until you feel you’ve overcome that fear and move on to the next one. Other ways to overcome fears are to talk to people who have already done so, and exchange ideas on how you can do it as well. If you have a fear of rejection, talk to someone who’s very sociable. If you are afraid of quitting your job, talk to a successful entrepreneur who left his employer to start his own business. You can also create a list of all of the long and short term positive outcomes of the feared action. Be open to the change, visualize how you want to be and take steps towards it. After practicing and becoming comfortable being vulnerable, your desires will manifest quicker and easier because you will be willing and able to do what it takes to achieve your dreams, despite the initial discomfort.

Why Go to Massage School?

I started the 250 hour massage certification program at Twin Lakes College in Santa Cruz, California the beginning of this month. So far it’s been an enlightening experience and better than I could have expected. In this blog post I am going to share why I believe everyone should go to massage school.

Receiving Massage Daily

You will be both receiving and giving massage daily, learning how to create a safe environment for your client, and how to facilitate their healing experience. When you receive so much massage you become more aware of your body and where you hold tension. Receiving and giving loving touch is a great way to become more in touch with your heart and feelings. The more you help others relax, the more you are able to empathize and feel the love multiply. This sense of touch is also a new way of communicating with people and friends. We get to know the person intimately, knowing where they hold tension, their unique body shape, and nurturing them in a safe environment. The receiver of massage puts a lot of trust in the giver, letting his/her touch encompass their reality. This vulnerability, trust and place of nurturing causes relationships to deepen.

An Uplifting Social Environment

The classmates I’ve had in Twin Lakes are motivated to help each other learn the most they can in these seven weeks. You will spend so much time together, trading massage outside of class, and the deeper the connections you make with your classmates, the more you will gain from massage experience. The sense of community is already tangible after just a couple weeks, with everyone being very friendly and open to each other. The teachers are great resources at Twin Lakes college, listening and answering our questions and problems with their knowledge and experience. They’re very approachable and some teachers have even stayed after class to allow us to practice more on each other. The possibility for continuing education is exciting as well, after this 250 hour Swedish program we can go on to learn more about other modalities such as Thai massage, Shiatsu, Reiki and Deep tissue.

Developing Presence and a quiet mind

In order to give a good relaxing massage you have to be centered and grounded while giving.  When you give your full attention to your present movements and sense of touch, the receiver feels taken care of, and feels the pull to become present in his body as well. Once you develop this ability your massage work will feel more like a calming meditation. Practicing things like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, and meditation help you more easily stay in this state of presence.

Self-Care and your Health

The most important aspect for the massage professional is self-care. Exercising, relaxing, eating nutritious meals and getting enough sleep are all necessary to stay in that state of presence while giving a massage. If you’re going to be working while going to massage school I would recommend taking massage school part time. This way you will have more time to practice, read, and take care of yourself. Invite others students to do group yoga sessions, go hiking, and to go to the beach together. Then you can relax and exercise while deepening your connection with your classmates. The field of massage naturally attracts people who are athletic and you should have no problem finding class mates who are interested in exercising with you.

Everyone should go to massage school

The ability to be present, to give others the gift of relaxation and to receive it as well. The friendship and sense of purpose. Helping others heal themselves. The entourage of growth oriented students who are motivated to learn. Click here for more information on my massage services.

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