Guest post by Debbie Philp

It starts with a groundhog

Winter in Schroon LakeA few of days ago, Americans acknowledged the old Celtic festival of Imbolc (or Candlemas) by practicing the art of weather divination. In other words, some folks woke up some groundhogs and, because some saw their shadow, declared there will be six more weeks of winter bleakness. (And, because it is 2018 and even the groundhogs are standing up for their freedoms, one Canadian groundhog bit a reporter who tried to stop it from escaping its pen.)

For the most part, I don’t mind winter and enjoy the snow, but sometimes it does seem to drag on and on. I suspect the Celts thought so, too, since they chose to celebrate the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s kind of an “over the hump” thing – the Wednesday of winter.

This winter’s temperatures so far have bounced between “too warm for winter” and “too cold for me and the pipes,” and rain has alternated with snow leaving a thick layer of ice on places like my driveway. The political and social climate in the United States has been equally inconsistent and icy lately.

Yet here we are at the middle of winter and there is reason to hope. Can you feel into that?

Gathering in hope

We may be gathering in protest, in celebration, or for a big football game, but we are gathering. We are leaving our homes, risking icy spots, to declare that we still have hope and winter won’t beat us.

This is the spirit of Imbolc. It is a time to shake off the winter doldrums and cultural and joyfully declare, “I know that spring is coming. We can get through this dark time.”

We also gather at the yoga studio. In addition to yoga classes, where we connect through the shared practice, we gather for events such as our drum circles and Reiki shares, goddess circles and Red Tent temples. Yoga teachers gather for teacher trainings to advance their own practices and to become better instructors for you. We do our best, working around winter weather when necessary, to keep our opportunites to gather going all year.

I appreciate everyone who braves the cold and snow to gather with me. You bring me hope. More snow is on its way. Perhaps the second half of winter will bring us opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as well as coming together on our yoga mats.

Check out our yoga class schedule for chances to gather and our home page for upcoming events.

Debbie Philp is the founder of True North YogaDebbie Philp, the founder of True North Yoga, sees the pursuit of wellness as a sacred journey that reveals the healer within. She offers yoga and shamanic healing practices to help you discover your innate power, your inner wisdom, and your ability to nurture yourself and others. Debbie is a E-RYT500 yoga teacher and a Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher. She teaches yoga classes, leads yoga teacher training, instructs Shamanic Reiki Levels 1 and 2, and offers individual healing sessions. Visit her website:

At True North Yoga, we’ve been bringing you our best offerings of asana (poses) and meditation. Those are only part of the yoga path, however. We are happy to introduce Bhakti Yoga to our studio family and bring you a new way to experience yoga.

Bhakti, which is Sanskirt for intense love or devotion, includes practices like prayer, mantra, and – our favorite! – chanting. Chanting is shared through the practice of Kirtan, during which chants are lead in a call-and-response format. Traditional Kirtan chants repeat names of the Hindu deities in Sanskrit, but many contemporary kirtan artists blend English-language chants and those from other cultures into the Bhatki experience.

Read more about Bhakti practices on Yoga International’s website.

Bhakti at True North Yoga

For the last six months, Beth and Debbie have been developing their own Bhakti prpactices. With their guitars, they have been practicing chants and they are ready to bring Kirtan to the broader community.

On Saturday, February 3rd, as drumming winds down in our Sacred Drumming Circle in the Schroon Lake studio, Beth and Debbie will be offering a “pop-up” community kirtan. We will chant for about 45 minutes and there will be no charge. Look for more of these informal kirtan events in the future in both studio locations.

Bhakti Yoga at the Adirondack Chant FestAdirondack Chant Fest

If you’d like to deepen into the Bhakti practice, block off Saturday, April 7th on your calendar. We are hosting the Adirondack Chat Fest in our Keene Valley studio from 10:00am to 10:00pm. We are bringing together a number of Kirtan artists and sound healers for a full day of chanting, singing bowls, and sound baths. More details and tickets are coming very soon. Watch our home page for event information.

Energetics of Yoga Teacher Training at True North YogaMost of the great teachers we have at True North Yoga were part of Debbie’s yoga teacher training program. Debbie has trained 32 Adirondack yoga teachers since her initial 200-hour teacher training in 2012. She prides herself on not only giving trainees a firm foundation in yoga asana and philosophy, but in also giving them a strong connection to the magic of our Adirondack park. Because they can share that connection in their yoga classes, our studio more than just a place to practice yoga. It is truly a reflection of the beauty of the lakes and mountains that our part of our lives. The Energetics of Yoga Teacher Training Foundational program includes eleven weekends between October and March. With time to integrate the practices and teaching skills, you will finish ready to teach your first class.

Interested in a deeper practice or becoming a yoga teacher? Our next 200-hour, foundational training begins in October.

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training

Beginning in 2017, yoga teachers were offered a way to evolve on their mats and in their lives. The Energetics of Yoga Advanced Training program for yoga teachers consists of four “elemental” modules, each taking place over four weekends at our Keene Valley studio. Debbie incorporates shamanic journeys and other experiential practices into the teacher training modules so yoga teachers can awaken and expand personally and professionally.

Elemental Modules

The Earth module focuses on the physical aspects of an asana practice. The program includes a deepening of anatomical awareness, assisting and adjusting asanas, and mapping challenging asanas to introduce them in an accessible and safe way.

The Air module wakes up your inner storyteller. Through discussion of the power of story and learning styles, yoga teachers grow more confident in incorporating story into their classes and workshops. The Air module also includes advanced pranayama and a dive into your personal story. Yoga teachers finish with a completed bio ready for promotional materials.

In the Water module, yoga teachers explore the subtle body in yoga and the joyful practice of Bhakti. During this module you will do lots of chanting! You will gain a deeper understanding of the chakras, the meridians, and energy practices which compliment yoga. After an introduction to Yin Yoga you will be able to incorporate Yin poses into your classes for more variety and to address energetic as well as physical imbalances.

During the Fire module, you will discover your passions. A weekend is devoted to an eye-opening look at the various social and environmental issues that exist around the world and your own core values. You will approach teaching as an expression of your unique inner fire. You will advance your sequencing skills to create magical flows and design transformative workshops and private offerings.

Teacher Training Registration

Each module is offered once a year. Teachers can take any modules of interest in any order. More information, the upcoming dates for each advanced teacher training module, and online registration is available on Debbie’s website. You can also learn more about the six-month, 200-hour Foundational Training program and register for the next session which begins in October. You will also find the dates on our Keene Valley studio calendar.

We are opened following a reduced class schedule during Christmas week. Here’s when you can join us for a yoga practice:

Schroon Lake:
Monday, December 25th:
Closed – Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 26th:
6:00pm Hatha Yoga with Beth

Wednesday, December 27th:
9:30am Gentle Hatha for Beginners with Beth

Thursday, December 28th:
5:30pm Yin Yoga with Jennifer S.

Friday, December 29th:
9:30am Hatha Flow with Beth

Saturday, December 30th:
10:00am Community Yoga with Jennifer M.

Sunday, December 31st:
No scheduled classes

Monday, January 1st:
Closed – Happy New Year!

Keene Valley:

Monday, December 25th:
Closed – Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 26th:
9:00am Keep Strong with Magda

Wednesday, December 27th:

Thursday, December 28th:
9:00am Keep Strong with Magda

Friday, December 29th:
No scheduled classes

Saturday, December 30th:
No scheduled classes

Sunday, December 31st:
10:00am Community Yoga with Jennifer V.

Monday, January 1st:
Closed – Happy New Year!

Our regular schedule resumes on Tuesday, January 2nd. Have a wonderful holiday week!

Have you found a yoga blanket in our Schroon Lake studio with a gold thread tied in the fringe? If so, you have a newley washed blanket thanks to the Seva of Helene Vanderburgh, a regular and long-time supporter of our studio.

Seva Gratitude Clean BlanketsSeva in yoga and life

Seva means “selfless service” in Sanskrit, the traditional language of yoga. Helene has been washing our blankets two at a time, week after week, so they are fresh and clean for us, and for you. We are very grateful to Helene for her service, for which she expected nothing in return.

Being of service doesn’t have to be difficult. Helene saw a need we had and found a simple, mundane way to meet it. That doesn’t make her service any less meaningful for us. MindBodyGreen shared Ram Dass’ thoughts on Seva, which we think sums up Helene’s work perfectly.

“Helping out is not some special skill. It is not the domain of rare individuals. It is not confined to a single part of our lives. We simply heed the call of that natural impulse within and follow it where it leads us.”

Next time you see Helene in our Schroon Lake studio, join us in thanking her for washing our blankets. We appreciate all the help we get from our community, which includes very simple things like inviting your friends to a yoga class or event, taking the time to put your props away neatly for the next class, and taking off your shoes before you walk on the floor to keep it clean for all of our socks and bare feet. We thank you, too!

The snow isn’t too bad, but enough to reduce our schedule. The Tuesday 9:00am Keep Strong class is Keene Valley is cancelled today. While the roads are passable, Magda is abroad and our subs have long drives and school delays that prevent them from arriving by class time.

Schroon Lake will be open this evening for Beth’s 6:00pm Hatha. Debbie’s 7:30pm Shamanic Flow has already been cancelled so she can see her son in the Schroon Lake Central holiday concert.

True North Yoga grew to two locations in July, and now the newly added Keene Valley, New York, studio has ungone further expansion. Our newly enclosed front porch has opened up lots of room on the heated floor for more yoga mats.

Expanding into 2018

Our expanded Keene Valley studio features a welcoming check-in area.The studio expansion means there is room for you and your friends in our classes and workshops, and we are looking forward to sharing some great offerings with you in 2018, including the first ever Adirondack Chant Fest – a day-long celebration of the sounds of yoga. The Chant Fest will feature Kirtan led by Adirondack locals, singing bowl meditations, and sound baths, from 10:00am to 10:00pm on April 7, 2018. Save the date!

We will continue to honor community with regular monthly Reiki shares and drum circles. Ladies, you can embrace your sacred feminine at Red Tent Temples in Keene Valley or New Moon Goddess Circles in Schroon Lake. Debbie Philp will be bringing Moon Salutations, Restorative, Reiki and Yoga Nidra, and Shamanic Healing for Self-Care workshops to both locations throughout the year.

Yoga and Reiki Trainings

The Keene Valley studio expansion means there is more room for you on the heated yoga floor.Is 2018 the year you become or expand as a yoga teacher? Do you want to learn to practice hands on energy healing? True North Yoga’s Keene Valley studio is the place to be! In Debbie’s Energetics of Yoga training programs you will deepen your practice and change your life. The element-based advanced modules for yoga teachers who are ready to evolve are offered throughout the year. If you wish to take your yoga practice to the next level or become a yoga teacher, the next foundational program begins in October 2018.

There are also opportunities to learn Reiki. You will find Levels One and Two of Shamanic Reiki, which blends traditional Reiki with other shamanic healing practices, offered a number of times next year. If you would prefer Usui Reiki, we will also be hosting those trainings.

Try a Yoga Class

Between the special events, we always have a great line up of weekly yoga classes for you. Our schedule is full of creative and unique classes led by well-trained, authentic teachers. Now that our physical expansion is complete, we look forward to expanding our class offerings in the year to come.

There’s lots of great stuff on the calendar already, and we are looking forward to seeing you often in 2018!


Winter Weather Policy

December 11, 2017

winter weather warningIt’s beginning to look a lot like…time for a winter weather closing policy reminder!

Our basic school day plan is to close whenever the local school district has a snow day. This allows those of us with school-aged kids to be home with them and keeps us off snow-covered roads. If Schroon Lake Central or Keene Valley Central is closed, the respective studio will also be closed. On weekends and school breaks, we will coordinate with our yoga instructors to determine if we can open. We will, of course, respect any state of emergency declarations and stay off the roads.

We will announce closings on Facebook, by email to our year-round list, and on this news page.

Please check before heading out and keep in mind that some of our teachers have a distance to drive and may not be able to make it even if local conditions are passable. We will do our best to keep you informed. Stay safe and stay peaceful!

Guest post by Debbie Philp

It’s not what to wear to your first class that matters

Your first yoga class can be awkward, but it pays to keep practicing.From what I’ve observed during my nine years of teaching yoga, it’s not hard to get someone to try yoga for the first time. It’s getting him or her back for the second round that’s the challenge. Because most yoga teachers, myself included, can’t take the time during a 75-minute multi-level class to fully explain to newcomers what to expect, here is what you really need to know before your first yoga class.

The first time you try yoga, it will most likely feel very awkward. Just standing with bare feet on a sticky mat feels weird. Getting your body into the same shape as the instructor’s will seem impossible. You might feel uncoordinated, unbalanced, ungraceful and totally inflexible. The next day, you might be sore in places you didn’t know you had muscles. And, if you can’t set all those feelings aside, you might never try yoga again.

Yoga is not an instant cure-all. A yoga practice can make your body stronger, more flexible and healthier, but it won’t happen overnight. One time is never enough. The only way yoga can work is if you keep practicing.

The trick is to get through that first class without letting your critical ego get in the way. Your body is going to think yoga is great and that it wants to do more. The muscles, although they might be sore, will have really enjoyed the stretching. It’s your mind that will shut down your desire for more yoga. Your mind likes to carry on about anything it can, so it will chatter away, telling you that you didn’t look good in the poses, that you aren’t flexible enough to do these kinds of things, or that you need to lose 25 pounds before you try again.

It really is all in your mind

The problem with the mind is that it always wants to be the center of attention. It looks for things to think about so it never has to be quiet. Yoga takes your attention away from the mind and directs it to the body. The mind fights back by dragging you outside yourself. It worries about what other people think and tries to convince you it knows what’s going on in other people’s heads. Once it does, you feel self-conscious and inadequate, because you can never live up to the expectations you have imagined other people have for you.

The truth is nobody else in your yoga class, besides the teacher whose job it is to make sure you are doing the poses safely, cares what you look like on your mat. Other beginners are suffering the same insecurities you are, and more experienced practitioners are usually thrilled when someone new tries this practice that they love. Once the class is underway, all those with experience are focusing on their own bodies and probably won’t even look at you. Many go through their practice with their eyes closed. They are not watching you to see if you mess up.

It’s okay to laugh

While laughter is certainly not off-limits in yoga class, and is, in fact, a welcome release when the class is getting too intense, nobody will laugh at you for being a beginner. Yoga students sometimes laugh at themselves when they struggle to balance in tree pose or mess up their rights and lefts and end up facing the wrong way. Laughter is a wonderful, heart-opening practice when it comes from love and camaraderie. Yoga students may laugh together, but they don’t laugh at each other, despite what your ego may tell you.

Practicing yoga is also an exercise in humility. Unlike sports, you are not going to get much recognition for doing yoga, no matter how well you do it. You can practice yoga for 20 years and you will never get a trophy, or even a ribbon. You are unlikely to have your journey to yoga greatness documented by a gaggle of photographers. On your mat, it’s just you against……you. Nobody wins. No sports page coverage.

Putting all the ego stuff aside is what makes yoga different than just stretching exercises and, in the end, is what brings people back to the mat. When you learn to ignore all the stuff the mind is going on about, it shuts up. You get to have a few moments of quiet and you discover what yoga really is.


Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence.

That’s what it comes down to. The whole time you’re on your mat, struggling awkwardly into poses, fighting off critical thoughts – while toning and strengthening your body, of course – all you’re trying to do is have a moment of silence.

Once you discover the silence, you’ll keep coming back to your mat. The next time you practice, you can be pretty sure you’ll be right back to struggling with your ego, trying to find the silence again. But over time the poses will feel a little less awkward. You may be a bit more balanced and feel a touch more coordinated. You will begin to move with grace. And you may discover that you are more flexible than you thought.

All because you didn’t let the first class be the last class.

Check out our beginner-friendly yoga class schedule to choose your first class and contact us if you have any questions.

Debbie Philp is the founder of True North YogaDebbie Philp, the founder of True North Yoga, sees the pursuit of wellness as a sacred journey that reveals the healer within. She offers yoga and shamanic healing practices to help you discover your innate power, your inner wisdom, and your ability to nurture yourself and others. Debbie is a E-RYT500 yoga teacher and a Shamanic Reiki Master Teacher. She teaches yoga classes, leads yoga teacher training, instructs Shamanic Reiki Levels 1 and 2, and offers individual healing sessions. Visit her website:

Holiday affirmation box at True North Yoga's Keene Valley studioThe holiday season is upon us, and that means endless joy, family bliss, and abundance, right? (Yeah, even the yoga teachers are snickering at that.) Traffic, crowded stores, and unrealistic expectations can turn bliss into tension. But you don’t have to fall into the holiday stress trap. An affirmation practice can help.

An affirmation is simply a statement made confidently about what you desire to be true for you. When you create an affirmation, decide what you want to be true in your life, then state it as if it is already the case. Choose something you can say in the positive, rather than repeating what you “won’t” be doing. For example, if you notice you anticipate being uncomfortable around aquaintances at an upcoming holiday gathering, you might affirm:

I embrace the holiday season with joy and an open heart.

To use an affirmation powerfully, repeat it daily, out loud, with conviction. It helps to say it three times in a row, three times per day. This way, you are programming your mind into believing it to be true. Where your thoughts go, your emotions follow. It’s the same mechanism that makes us cry during a sad movie scene, as if it were happening in reality.

To get started, you can choose a holiday joy affirmation from the box when you visit one of our yoga studios. Your yoga practice will also help relieve holiday stress, so check our schedule for a class in Schroon Lake or Keene Valley, New York.

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