“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”  

-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

We live in a world where individuals are constantly surrounded by some kind of noise. Whether it comes from traffic, advertisements, music, podcasts, TV, movies, or conversations; the external world is saturated. Something is always begging for our attention which could create experiences of sensory overload and anxiety among individuals. People sleep less today compared to just a decade ago and nervous systems remain in active states.

Specifically, the sympathetic nervous system remains on, and in the ready-to-react state for learning, social interaction, alertness, and fight or flight. If an individual remains in this state without the ability to rest, then anxiety, anger, restlessness, panic, and hyperactivity can result. Due to these feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and so on, we find ourselves in a loop. We continue to use noisy distractions to mask the depleting emotions. In turn, we constantly stay engaged and active, leading to feelings of anxiety and the like, then masking them with distractions. The loop continues.

As individuals have come to use noise as a distraction from their internal world, much of society is unsure of how to sit in stillness and silence. The emotions feel heavy, out of control. The mind can feel like a tornado of thoughts, also out of control. When we use distractions, we feel in control and safe. Although we may feel safe, these constant distractions are causing harm by keeping the body in the physical state of hyperarousal. Without the aid of external distractions, we may feel naked, vulnerable, restless, and uncomfortable sitting in silence. Out of our comfort zone.

As we come to practice sitting in stillness and silence, the body taps into the complementary parasympathetic nervous system. This contrasting nervous system is the state of rest and reset. Research suggests sitting in silence physically changes our bodies. Our blood pressure drops, heart rate slows, blood circulation to the brain improves, and cortisol adrenaline levels reduce. In a 2013 study on mice, researchers found silence for two hours a day increased brain cells where learning and memory functions are primarily located, in the hippocampus.

Although the first few times sitting in silence can feel uncomfortable, it’s the first step in emotional healing. The silence allows for internal reflection and mindfulness. It allows the emotions and thoughts that have been suppressed to rise to the surface and be acknowledged. That can sound scary. Just know, it’s ok. Psychology shows that when we acknowledge fear or uncomfortable emotions, they tend to subside and become less. When we practice sitting in silence as the observer of our internal world, we can bring understanding and compassion to ourselves.

Naturally, the human body is equipped with yin and yang in the form of a parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. These systems have opposite functions and support each other through their differences. Staying in one state vs the other can result in harmful effects to the physical, emotional, and mental body. The key to a healthy life is playing in and with the balance of activity and rest. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Through reflection and compassion, we find our own unique symphony of sound and silence.

By Shannon Potter, February 2023

Exclusive vs. Inclusive

When I began practicing yoga in 2000, yoga seemed exclusive. Certain styles of yoga offered “their” way as being the only way. Some studios catered to a certain audience that didn’t necessarily include me.  Athletic, thin, affluent,  mostly white and  female. I hadn’t participated in anything athletically physical in all my adult life. On that note, very little in my childhood as well. I was working an 8-5 to make ends meet. I did fit into the white and female categories. Things like yoga tribe and good vibes only are things I would hear and see, still do, associated with the practice.  I don’t subscribe to those channels. 

I went to studios near and far to learn the physical practice. I thought that was practice. When I attended studios that were inclusive. Studios that served old, young, all genders, races and  physical levels and that weren’t teaching “advanced postures”. I thought it wasn’t yoga. To say the least, I was in yoga preschool. Oohhhh, how I longed to do a handstand in the middle of the room. 

I met a teacher in 2012 that ROCKED MY WORLD! I left her class crying. Something I’m not accustomed to doing. She didn’t teach advanced postures. Her class included an African American man in his 90’s, people with physical limitations and an array of health issues. 

She was teaching Ayurveda this particular weekend that I was there and I began to learn some of the fundamentals of yoga. Some of the things I had been teaching weren’t accessible to my audience. 

This was an eye opener! I began to let the “advanced postures” go. They aren’t necessary. This allows more people to participate. I strive to make my classes inclusive so that all bodies can participate. It can be a challenge as some students have been practicing for years, some are there for physicality, all of our bodies are put together differently, so we can’t all make the same shapes. However, we can all breathe and as long as we’re doing that together, mindfully, we’re practicing yoga.

February 8, 2023 By Jody Reece


Community by Shannon Potter

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet, what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?” –Cloud Atlas David Mitchell

Communities would not be possible without the single droplets of individuals. Although, in the last decade with the rise of technology and social media, surveys have found people increasingly feel more like a single droplet that is not a part of an ocean. Engaging in communities, such as the yoga community, could be a relief for those struggling with loneliness.

In 2017, the former U.S. Surgeon General declared an epidemic of loneliness. The following year, the U.K. appointed a Minister of Loneliness so the rising number of lonely individuals can reach out to access information and resources to feel less lonely. As social media has gained popularity over the years, loneliness has grown in correlation. Could it be that observing others’ connections via social media contributes to the feeling of being alone? Although social media insinuates community, connections are rooted deeper than solely relying on surface connections through the screen. As we have broader access to lives across the world, our ocean expands to limitless ends, and we comparatively feel smaller and less significant. Without engagement in a community through the physical world, we feel shallow connections to life in general.

Research supports that involvement in communities contributes to a person’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Participation in a community can offer an extra sense of meaning and purpose to a person’s life through contribution and social interaction. When the feeling of fellowship with other lone souls occurs, that is community. Where we come together to share experiences and ideas, to challenge and be challenged, and to acknowledge one another. Communities give us the sense that we are not alone. Through even the smallest connection, we feel we are a part of something bigger. Engaging in communities in the physical world in addition to the online communities, we feel connected and supported. We embrace our small droplet and coincide with the view, energy, and presence of others to become a part of a communal body of water.

Drifting through the door at a yoga studio, a community is found. Where individuals come together for different reasons; whether it be to open the body, heal the heart, or calm the mind. Those differences create tides of energy felt through the room as individuals move, breathe, and find stillness together as a whole. Yoga itself is a tool to open and heal the body, heart, and mind. When practiced with others in the community, benefits can be felt tenfold. Involvement in the local yoga community can look like simply taking a class for the first time, following the teacher, and not knowing what to expect. It can also look like taking classes weekly, saying hello to a few familiar faces, and exploring poses you’ve come to know. Whether it’s the first class or the fiftieth, one may notice changes such as the  body and heart opening, the mind a bit more at ease, and possibly a feeling of belonging.

We invite you to be a part of our community at Inside Out Yoga in Downtown Winter Haven, Florida. We have all kinds of classes every day with a variety of teachers that could be suitable to your uniqueness. New students can enjoy unlimited classes for two weeks for twenty dollars. We invite you to open your heart to explore the mysteries of your internal world and embrace the vibrant ocean that surrounds you.

Breathing Tricks

Breathing Tricks
If you are not familiar with the 4-7-8 breathing technique, it’s time for you to use and enjoy this very effective form of pranayama. This simple breathing directive has been popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil and there is no reason here to give you express, how to instruction. Learn from the good doctor himself  here or just google “4-7-8 breathing” to find lots of other voices.
Three things we would emphasize. The outbreath, as in many other pranayama practices, is quite important. The 8-count exhale is longer than the 4-count inhale (or 7-count hold) for good reason, i.e. to thoroughly empty your lungs of any stale air and to set yourself up for a full and effortless inhale. Secondly, don’t ignore the instruction regarding your pursed lips and tongue. It helps to modulate your exhale and eliminates the generation of excess saliva. Finally, this is a modest relaxation and focusing exercise. You don’t have to force, extend or exaggerate anything.
What’s it good for? It’s wonderful at the beginning of seated meditation or a yoga routine, or even a bit of savasana. It’s simple but complex enough that you must momentarily focus your attention on the breath and counting to the exclusion of whatever else you may be thinking about. After the four or so rounds, you can proceed right in to counting all of your breaths or the mindful focusing on just the long and short of inhales and exhales. On your exhale, you might particularly bring attention to relaxing the tense neck and shoulders, the nemeses of much full-
body relaxation. That can be particularly helpful if you are employing 4-7-8 to help you fall or fall back asleep.
As with all yoga asana and pranayama, don’t be afraid to experiment and observe, or be too quick to judge its efficacy. 4-7-8 is simple, universal goodness.
Don’t be afraid to dive deep and make it your own!
Kerry Wilson

Yoga Journal Article – How Yoga Can Help Manage Your Blood Sugar Level

How Yoga Can Help You Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels, According to New Research

A new meta-analysis examining 28 studies found that mind-body practices may play a substantial role in reducing blood-sugar levels.

You may turn to your yoga practice for a sense of calm or a burst of energy. But for those with diabetes, your practice may also help you manage your blood-sugar levels. In a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found links between mind-body practices and improvements in glucose levels among people with type 2 diabetes.

The team, led by researchers from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, examined findings from 28 studies. In each, participants took medication in addition to completing various mindfulness-based exercises. People who practiced yoga saw a statistically significant percent decrease in hemoglobin A1c, a test which measures your average blood-sugar levels over the previous three months.

A reduction in blood-sugar levels from mind-body practices

When evaluating the studies as a whole, the researchers found a mean reduction of 0.84 percent in A1c. In studies where participants practiced mindfulness-based stress reduction, there was a 0.48 percent reduction in hemoglobin A1c. People who practiced Qigong, a practice rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine, saw a 0.66 percent decline.

However, out of all of the mind-body routines examined, yoga had the largest impact, leading to a 1.0 percent decrease. The frequency of the participants’ yoga practice also mattered in the analysis. Each additional day of yoga a week led to a steeper drop in their hemoglobin A1c levels.

The impact of these findings

These percentage changes may seem small yet, when looking at range of hemoglobin A1c results, their effectiveness is clear. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, a normal (non-diabetic) hemoglobin A1c level is below 5.7 percent. A prediabetic level is between 5.7 and 6.4 percent, while a diabetic level is above 6.5 percent. Thus, even slight reductions in these test results can make a measurable impact for a patient.

The degree to which these practices affected blood-sugar levels surprised the team of researchers. “We expected there to be a benefit, but never anticipated it would be this large,” Fatimata Sanogo, the study’s lead author, said in a press release.

While this analysis focused on those with type 2 diabetes, its results suggest that those with prediabetic blood-sugar levels could potentially see similar benefits. “This could be an important tool for many people because type 2 diabetes is a major chronic health problem and we are not doing a good enough job at controlling it,” Sanogo said. “Although this study does not address it as a preventive measure, it does suggest it could help people who are pre-diabetic reduce their risk for future type 2 diabetes.”

The authors noted these mind-body practices are not a substitute for medication, but rather a supplementary tool in helping manage blood-sugar levels.

Practicing With Injuries

Practicing with injuries
Yoga’s enhancement of balance and flexibility helps decrease the chance of
various injuries. And there is good evidence that yoga strengthens the immune
system, helping to protect us from disease. But every active person is occasionally
bound to strain, break or wear-out something or fall victim to minor or serious
illness. And we do so to a degree that makes us first think that our yoga practice
is out of reach or provides some mental excuse for neglecting our daily yoga
But maybe we should consider such infirmities as opportunities for deeper
practice. From this perspective, injury and illness can be a blessing in disguise,
allowing the increased awareness of your body gained through yoga to be used to
send relaxation and metabolic balance to all affected areas and to allow full and
free functioning of the powerful healing functions that the body is constantly
generating. Until you die, so many more things are going right in your body than
are going wrong and that regenerative energy, enhanced by asana and breathing
routines, can assist and accelerate both physical and mental recovery.
The secret is just first to make it to your mat and then approach everything slowly
and mindfully. More than ever, this kind of practice is not a competition, with
others or yourself. Use asanas and your breath to cautiously (and perhaps
repeatedly) examine the problem areas and investigate how your yoga motions
and bodily attention might assist the natural healing functions. You might be
surprised by what you find!
If you let them know you have an issue, the Inside/Out instructors are always glad
to suggest alternatives to your normal routines. And remember, no matter what
the issue, 10 minutes of vinyasa, alone or in a class, is always a good thing!
Kerry Wilson 6.21.22

Sex and Yoga

Yoga and sex. Let me count the ways:

Historically (meaning pre-20th century), probably not much of a relationship. At various times there have been undocumented connections made between the origins of postural yoga and the exotic practices of itinerant 19th century saddhus (the often naked, bad boys of India). These accusations more likely originated as insults thrown by traditional society (and the British) in order to discredit those threatening and (almost exclusively) male ascetics.


As yoga moved to the west after Krishnamacharya, however, yoga certainly got more “sexy.” It was taken up fervently by movie stars and other beautiful people (most often female), leggings became almost universal and hot yoga classes couldn’t help but remind participants of similar activities.


But what are the real connections? 

  1. Study after study has shown that the regular practice of asanas decreases stress and the levels of cortisol in the body. These positive effects can linger for hours after a yoga routine, minimizing anxiety and making you more open to active lovemaking.
  2. Study after study has shown that a regular practice not only reduces stress but it also increases a general feeling of well-being. If you feel happy, your self-esteem usually rises, again making you more confident and carefree with respect to your chosen sexual practices.
  3. Many postures and techniques (including pranayama), and especially those involving strengthening the core and lifting the pelvic floor, increase healthy blood flow to the genital area. Particularly, the pelvic lock known as “Mula Bandha” (very similar to the Kegel exercise) brings strength and increased awareness to those special places that count (in addition to improving balance and spinal alignment).
  4. A 2010 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine said that yoga improves all sexual functions in men, including desire, performance, erection, and ejaculation control. Much cheaper and healthier than that Viagra prescription!
  5. Not to get all acrobatic or kama sutra, but yoga’s contribution to most people’s flexibility decreases the possibility of those “I’ve got a cramp, we’ve got to stop!” moments.
  6. A wise yogi uses his or her practice to bring attention and awareness to the totality of the body. The next time orgasm is imminent, use your mindful awareness training to concentrate that thrill in not only your  brain and sexual organs but to also in every portion of your body, from your ears to your toes, from your lips to your finger tips and all points in between. The full body orgasm will be yours.


We here at Inside/Out are just trying to calm the fluctuations of our minds. Come join us for more techniques!


Kerry Wilson



We here at Inside/Out desire to do yoga with you in person. There’s something about a live class. The presence of a knowledgeable instructor and other warm bodies seems to powerfully focus the good and godly vibe. It encourages the discipline needed to not only perform an extended and more active routine (of course none of our classes are “routine”!), but even the discipline necessary to let yourself experience an extended sivanasa. 


But few of us can get to class every day. What to do? Just because you can’t make the class doesn’t mean you can’t take at least a few minutes each day to do some asana. Perhaps before or after another kind of workout, or right before your bedtime read. Maybe in the morning before your meditation and prayers, or even beside your work desk, circumstances permitting. 


The timing and location may dictate or suggest the kind of postures you can perform. It’s not particularly unique or personal, but my private yoga practice (before bedtime) often consists of the following:

-Mountain pose with arms raised, deeply relaxing the neck and shoulder area, extending the entire torso upward while rooting the feet

-10 forward bends/bows touching the toes and then using alternate sets of leg and back muscles when rising back up 

-A few lunges, not particularly deep, followed each time by extending the forward leg and lengthening the hamstrings

– A wind-relieving pose or two, of course

-Happy baby or just few moments of extending the legs toward the ceiling


I’ll also do a modified pigeon kind of thing, both sides, spreading across the bed. The benefits of all of these are greatly amplified by paying close attention to and aligning your movements with your breath. And taking at least a few moments for sivasana.


Life is short and the end of man (and woman) is the worm. Don’t miss a day and a chance to multiply prana whenever you can. 


Meanwhile, see you in class!

Kerry Wilson 4.14.22

Why Do Asana? Part 2

I’ve been reading an intriguing book by science writer, Annie Murphy Paul. The
Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain (2022) gathers and
analyzes the recent work of cognitive scientists demonstrating how we “think”
and perceive not just with our brains, but also with our entire body (embodied
cognition), our shared spaces (situated cognition) and our relationships with
others (distributed cognition). This isn’t just another book recognizing the reality
of “gut feelings”, but instead a deep dive into what exactly that might mean and
how we can specifically use this recent science to enhance our ability to learn
and, particularly, to think creatively.
Although Paul never mentions yoga, I’ve been struck by her reports of recent
studies and the terminology that has resulted. “Interoception”, a word scientists
are using to refer to our awareness of the inner state of our bodies, is something
yoga instructors constantly urge. We ask (or should ask) ourselves how does a
certain asana or movement make us feel? Even when most of us don’t turn our
awareness inward, she documents numerous studies showing that we engage in
“nonconscious information acquisition”, particularly when we significantly move
our bodies. Many of her insights in this area are linked simply with walking
(Thoreau’s “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin
to flow)”. But she also devotes an entire chapter to the role of “gesture”
(movement of hands, arms and body), citing studies which show that actively
gesturing on our part not only allows us to better communicate with others
(particularly children), but can be closely associated with what and how well we
(and our children) learn from others as well.
It got me thinking: Can we start to somehow equate asana practice with gesture?
When we ask ourselves why we do warrior pose in a certain shape, might it be
that previous teachers have noticed that such shape communicates with us better
than others? Or that the posture stimulates interoception or at least the impetus
to focus our awareness on bodily feeling? When we wonder or worry about the
historicity of yoga, might certain asana in fact be simply gestures from former,
accomplished teachers that instruct us across time without the use of voice or
words? And don’t get me started about mudras or a vigorous power yoga class!
Questions, questions, questions! Come join us for more at Inside/Out!
Kerry Wilson 3.31.22