Yogi of the Month: Neal Gordon

IMG_0507Name?
Neal Gordon

Occupation?
Biotech entrepreneur/executive


Fun fact about you?
My wife and I (Norma) moved back to Coolidge Corner repurchasing the condo we owned 20 years ago from the person we sold it to.


Favorite yoga pose?
One legged chaturanga


When not on your mat, where can you be found?
On the Cape or on my bike.


How long have you been practicing and what's
your latest yoga breakthrough?
About 4 years sporadically and now regularly at CCY since September 2014. It is hard to claim any specific latest breakthrough but I have certainly noticed better overall flexibility (not hard to improve from where I started!) and strength.


How has yoga impacted your life?
Yoga practice is something I look forward to, especially first thing in the morning as a great way to start the day. It combines both a physical aspect (better posture, better overall strength and toning) and an opportunity for self-reflection and establishment of a solid internal balance.

The Physiology of Yoga

Pranayama: Calming the Inner Seas

In the previous post, we discussed how pranayama (yogic breathwork) can be utilized to help increase energy and build internal heat when the body is feeling sluggish. However, sometimes (especially during the holiday season) our days can leave us feeling spread thin and exhausted as we rush about, juggling several commitments. At the end of the day, we are left feeling exhausted, yet still wound-up and unable to relax. This dichotomy is a result of an overactive nervous system, specifically the sympathetic branch, which is responsible for preparing our body for action. When we are constantly darting about our days from obligation to obligation, we never give our bodies a chance to relax and switch to parasympathetic control. Maintaining a balance between these two systems is crucial, not only for our mental health, but also for optimal functioning of several of our physiological systems. While we might not be able to abandon our commitments, yoga offers breathing practices, such as nadi shodhana, which can be incorporated throughout the day to help maintain balance and calm the internal seas.

IMG_0129Nadi shodhana, or alternate-nostril breathing, is a pranayama practice traditionally cited in yogic texts for calming the mind and body. Also known as “channel-clearing breath,” this practice is attributed with the ability to help open and clear the central channel of the body. To perform the practice, come to a comfortable seat and place the tip of the index and middle fingers of the right hand in between the eyebrows, the right ring and little fingers on the left nostril, and the right thumb on the right nostril. The ring and little fingers are used to open or close the left nostril, while the thumb is used for the right nostril.

To begin, use the thumb to close the right nostril while breathing gently out the left. Next, take a full breath in through the left and then close the left nostril gently with the ring and little fingers. Remove the right thumb from the right nostril and breathe out through the right. Finally, breathe in through the right and exhale out the left. This completes one round of nadi shodhana. Repeat this complete cycle for at least ten rounds, but continue it for up to fifteen minutes to reap greater benefits.


Vein_art_nearSo how exactly does this alternate breathing bring the body back into balance and help calm the inner storm? Nadi shodhana helps calm several of our physiological systems, but, most notably, the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and all of the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) and is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to all of the body’s tissues. While practicing this deep breathing does not necessarily increase the oxygen saturation of the blood (normal, healthy individuals already have about 98 percent saturation), it does help decrease blood pressure and lower heart rate, two metrics that are chronically increasing in today’s society, making this practice invaluable. Through activation of the vagus nerve, nadi shodhana sets a cascade in motion (described previously) to release parasympathetic neurotransmitters such as Acetylcholine (ACh) from neurons. Once ACh is released in the target tissue, physiological changes occur to bring the body into a more relaxed state.slide0009_image009

In the heart, cholinergic neurons (branches of the vagus nerve) innervate the cardiac muscle tissue. When activated, these neurons release ACh, which binds to specialized docking stations in the heart, called muscarinic receptors. Muscarinic receptors are concentrated in specific locations (the SA and AV nodes) responsible for generating the electrical conduction and “beat” of the heart. When ACh binds, it causes the frequency of electrical firing to decrease in the SA node and slows electrical conduction from the AV node, thus slowing the heart rate. Additionally, these muscarinic receptors inhibit the release of the excitatory neurotransmitter, norepinephrine, thus allowing the “rest and digest” response to take precedence over excitatory mechanisms.


angry-hour-glass-size-standardSimilarly, when ACh reaches the muscle walls of the arteries, a relaxation response is initiated through the binding of ACh to specific docking stations (muscarinic receptors). Once bound to these receptors, a chain of dominoes begins to fall, resulting in the release of chemicals and activation of enzymes (such as nitric oxide and guanylyl cyclase) in the blood stream. This release causes the vessel walls to dilate and blood pressure to decrease, illustrating a biological application of Bernoulli’s principle. This can be visualized by imagining a flowing river. If there is a steady flow of water and the river banks suddenly widen, the velocity and pressure of the water will decrease, as there is more space for the water to fill. This happens inside our arteries as well. Initiated by the release of ACh, arterial walls relax and dilate, giving the blood more space to flow, allowing blood pressure to decrease, and blood to move more freely throughout the vessels of the body.  Given this effect, it is not surprising that nadi shodhana was nicknamed the “channel clearing” breath. 

We have all experienced the effects of being overbooked and stretched in many directions. When we enter these time periods when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, our nervous system revs up, throwing our body into overdrive. If we do not actively work toward rebalancing our system, the pendulum can become stuck, leaving us with that feeling of being too exhausted to fall asleep. Incorporating a simple pranayamic practice such as nadi shodhana into our day can help give our overactive systems a break and restore a calmer, more focused state of being. The next time you find yourself with a list that seems to be endless, give yourself permission to take five minutes to calm the internal seas. You will move forward with increased fluidity and focus, making your day a little less daunting.

For more information on the author, Jessica Pate, or to access her other articles, visit the Physiology of Yoga site or check out the Facebook page. 

Feach-a Teach-a: Shilpa Reddy

Family Photo_copy1Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston?
I was born & Raised in Bangalore, India. I first came to America when I was 18, but then moved back to South Asia and then found my way to Boston 7 years ago.

What was your first yoga class like?
My first yoga class was with my father as a young girl. I was probably 4 or 5 years old -- we went for a short run round the block and when we came back my Dad introduced me to Down Dog, a seated forward fold and instructed me to sit quietly for a couple minutes -- my first experience at meditation! I grew up learning asanas from my parents and grand-parents. and slowly transitioned to a more formal practice.

What’s your favorite pose to teach?
My absolute favorite pose to teach is child's pose (balasana) walking arms over to one side for a few breaths, and then the other. Child's pose turns the attention inward, and when you combine that with the arms over to one side the practitioner enjoys a sublime side body stretch. The cherry on top is when you breathe into the side that you are opening, filling up that lung and spreading the ribs -- try it! So simple and potent.

As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe?
I don't have a particular pose that makes me cringe, but any shape I put myself in that halts breathing is one I avoid or modify. Blocks, walls, straps and blankets have become very dear to me.

Where can we find you when you’re off your mat?
Working at Gillette, riding my bike around the city and hurrying home to be with my husband and kids.

What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now?
My favorite continues to be "Blessed Always" by Donna De Lory. I first heard it during savasana in a yoga class and it immediately transports me to a place of rest and quiet.

Face Behind the Desk: Erin Harper


erinharper_copy1What do you do when not the friendly face behind the desk?
At the moment, I'm an underemployed librarian.  I work part-time for Boston ballet

Where are you from and what brought you to Boston?
I am from new Hampshire.  I went to school at BC and have been a Bostonian ever since.

Fun fact about yourself?
I used to volunteer for the Gifford cat shelter in Brighton.

What is your latest yoga breakthrough?
Realizing I'm not in my 20s anymore, and being okay with my practice reflecting that.

Insiders tip?
Yoga is never a bad idea, even on the day you were laid off.

The Physiology of Yoga

Pranayama: Kindling the Inner Fire

Previously, we discussed two of the most basic forms of pranayama (breath work), ujjayi and sama vritti pranayama. Both of these breathing exercises assist in bringing the body and mind into a more grounded, restorative state. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, these exercises can induce profound effects on several of the body’s systems. While these practices are extremely beneficial to help down-regulate the mind and body amidst our hectic lives, sometimes our non-stop days leave us feeling drained and in need of an energy boost. In circumstances such as these, the breath can be used in the opposite manner, acting as a catalyst to ignite and energize the body.  Yoga incorporates several engaged, active breathing practices to produce internal heat and stimulate systemic movement. Studies have demonstrated that these practices help to increase respiratory muscle efficiency, as well as increase lung compliance by shifting the elastic and viscous resistance of the lung tissue.

lungs_fireA commonly utilized practice for activating the body and increasing energy is kapalabhati pranayama, or “breath of fire.” To perform this practice, come to a comfortable seat, take a long, deep inhale, and then begin to forcefully and rapidly exhale out the nostrils, generating the force of the exhale from the abdominal region. No emphasis is placed on the inhale, as this occurs naturally as a “recoil” effect from the forceful expulsion of air. Aptly nicknamed, this practice has the capacity to generate heat quickly because the diaphragm, abdominal, and intercostal muscles must contract rapidly in order to maintain a continuous rhythm of exhales. The most obvious benefit of this type of practice is strengthening the diaphragm and intercostals since we typically don’t focus on contracting these muscles in our everyday lives.
alveoli
But kapalabhati has the potential to influence far more than the strength of our respiratory muscles. When practiced regularly, studies have shown that kapalabhati improves several respiratory parameters and increases lung capacity and ventilation. Kapalabhati also temporarily preferentially activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing heart rate, and thus blood flow, throughout the body. This increased blood flow helps supply the organs with more nutrients and oxygen, as well as removing any local stagnation. Additionally, because emphasis is placed on the exhale, carbon dioxide exchange at the alveoli (tiny air sacs where gas exchange occurs in the lungs) is increased, removing carbon dioxide from the blood at a greater rate than it is during normal breathing. Increased carbon dioxide clearance causes a shift in the natural buffering systems located in the blood, which in turn help to “quiet” the brain’s respiratory centers via chemical messengers. Studies have shown that participants demonstrate improved concentration and altered blood pressure fluctuations upon completion of kapalabhati breath work, which leads to a more energized, balanced state.

photo-6A more advanced pranayama, known as bhastrika pranayama, or “bellows breath,” can also be used as a tool to energize and balance the body. In bhastrika pranayama, emphasis is placed upon both the inhale and the exhale. Just as in kapalabhati, the control point of the breath is in the abdomen, but more focus is required, as effort is exerted on both components of the breath. The breath does not necessarily move as deeply as it does in kapalabhati, but effort is continuously maintained. If performed properly, the belly will fluctuate in and out (like the “bellows” of a blacksmith) and a hissing sound is produced through the nostrils. One round of this pranayama generally contains about ten complete bellows (forceful inhales and exhales). The speed and number of bellows can gradually be changed as your body becomes more adept at the practice.

Bhastrika pranayama helps to provide gentle, mechanical stimulation of the digestive system, as the organs are repeatedly compressed and released. In addition, this type of breath has been described as “electrifying” the nervous system. But what exactly does this mean physiologically? As with kapalabhati, this practice shifts the nervous system to preferentially activate the sympathetic nervous system, which releases activating neurotransmitters, thus energizing the body’s organs. However, this practice should be practiced with caution, as over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system can shift practitioners too far to the other side of the spectrum. If this practice begins to induce lightheadedness or anxiety, it should be discontinued until more basic forms of pranayama are mastered.
ujjayi
So how exactly does this apply to our everyday life? Pranayama is actually one of the easier limbs of yoga to incorporate into your life, as it does not require a lot of time and can be done almost anywhere. The next time you are feeling sluggish behind your desk, instead of running for a cup of coffee, why not move through some rounds of kapalabhati for a quick energy boost? If you are feeling cold, a quick way to warm the body without having to do much movement is to utilize pranayama. If your digestive fire is lagging, encourage the process by moving through some rounds of  bhastrikapranayama. Incorporating these practices in our everyday lives equips us with the tools to help ignite and control our inner fire, setting us up to experience greater vitality throughout the day.

For more information about the author, Jessica Pate, visit her site HERE or access other articles at Physiology of Yoga on Facebook. 

Yogi of the Month: Eric Summers

Name? Eric SummersYogi

Fun Fact?
I'm an insufferable beer nerd.


Favorite pose?
Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3) and other balances, as long as I don't fall!


Where can you be found when not on the mat?
I might be retired, I'm not sure yet. My professional interest is in infectious diseases. I am helping raise two incredible daughters, Emily 18 and Colleen 15.


How long have you been practicing yoga?
Regularly, for just over one year.


Latest yoga break through?
My plank is just about straight!


How has yoga impacted your life?
Yoga makes me feel both energized and relaxed at the same time in a really wonderful way. I also feel more composed during times of discomfort.

The Physiology of Yoga

Pranayama: Uncork the Power of the Breath

IMG_1216“Just take a deep breath.” This is likely an instruction you have heard whether you practice yoga regularly or have never set foot inside a studio. Almost intuitively, we know that stopping and taking a long, deep breath can help calm our body when we are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated. Indeed, a host of research articles support the physiological benefits of  slow, deep breath. The breath can be maneuvered in many other ways to produce different physiological effects. The practice of controlling the breath, whether it be the rate, depth, or entry/exit point, is an ancient practice known as pranayama and stands alone as the fourth limb of yoga in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. There are countless modes of breath manipulation—each of which initiates a physiological event—that can lead to calming, energizing, heating, cooling, and cleansing effects, among others. By employing different styles of pranayama, we have the ability to influence several physiological systems, including cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, and musculoskeletal.

The most basic form of pranayama is an equal, counted breath known as respiratory musclessama vritti pranayama. This yogic practice is equivalent to the slow, deep breathing techniques described in medical and scientific research on breathing techniques. To practice this breath, come to a comfortable seat and begin inhaling for a specified count, then exhale for an equal amount of time. The inhales and exhales can gradually be lengthened, stopping at the point when breathing becomes strained or is no longer comfortable for the practitioner. The most obvious benefit of this type of breathing is strengthening the accessory breathing muscles, such as the internal and external intercostals (located between the ribs). Since we are actively concentrating on inhaling for longer than normal, we utilize more of our lung capacity. The average person only utilizes about one-third of their total lung capacity in normal, uncontrolled breathing. When we actively manipulate our inhales and exhales, we strengthen the muscles and prepare ourselves for situations when the breath needs to be increased (like exercise).

Several other benefits of this type of breathing have been widely documented and include decreased blood pressure, improved tone in the autonomic nervous system, decreased anxiety, and improved digestion. But how exactly does a lengthened breath translate to changes across such a broad scale? The basic answer is that by guiding the breath in such a manner, we initiate a cascade of events that lead to up regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” response) and a down regulation of the sympathetic nervous system (the “fight or flight” response).

baroreceptorsThe cascade begins with stretch receptors in the lungs, aortic arch (the blood vessel directly exiting the heart), and carotid arteries (blood vessels along the throat). Inside the lungs, an increase in the tidal volume (the amount of air inhaled) will activate the Hering-Breuer reflex. This reflex translates the increased activity of the stretch receptors to increased activity of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve can be thought of as the main highway of the parasympathetic nervous system, as its branches exert influence over the heart, blood vessels, and many other organs. The net result is an increase in the release of “relaxing” hormones and a decrease in the release of “excitatory” hormones. A similar reflex also happens with baro-receptors in the aorta and carotid bodies in the carotid arteries; an increased stretch and volume of oxygen in the blood triggers a reflex that results in increased vagal nerve tone and, therefore, increased release of “relaxation” hormones. When the body is flooded with these relaxation hormones (such as GABA), the heart rate slows, blood vessels relax (resulting in decreased blood pressure), anxiety decreases, and digestion improves.

Another basic form of pranayama—and probably the most familiar to yogis—glottisis ujjayi breathing. Ujjayi breath is similar to the slow, deep breathing techniques mentioned above, but it adds a slight constriction at the back of the throat on the exhale, and requires the mouth to remain closed, forcing the nose to be the exit point for the breath. These extra elements provide the added component of heating the body, since heat does not escape the body as readily from the nose as it does from the mouth. This can be very useful in yoga practice, as we aim to build heat inside the body, but it can also be employed in everyday life when the body is in need of a temperature boost (cold, Boston winters, anyone?). While some might argue that the constriction at the back of the throat (initiated by the contraction of the glottis muscles) might provide an additional increase in pressure in the neck, there is not yet any scientific evidence to support this claim. Therefore, ujjayi breath does not necessarily increase vagal responses and parasympathetic reflexes above the response initiated from sama vritti pranayama.

Our breath has the potential to play a far greater role in our well being than simply delivering oxygen to the body. With even with the most simple manipulation, we can strengthen our musculature and positively affect organs and tissues throughout our entire body, thus altering our psychological and physiological states for the better. By incorporating elements found in ujjayi breathing to our daily lives, we can heat the body, helping to prepare it for exercise or to combat the elements. Bear in mind that these are just two of the most simple and common pranayama practices; there are many others that can be utilized to produce profound systemic effects. In upcoming posts, the physiological impact of more advanced pranayama practices will be explored, allowing us to dive deeper and fully uncork the power of the breath.

For more information about the author, Jessica Pate, or to access her other articles, visit her website HERE or check out The Physiology of Yoga on Facebook. 






Feach-a Teach-a: Kate Greer

Where are you from and how long have you been in Boston?katechicken
I was born in Boston and have been relocated here since I was pregnant with my first son, seven years ago now.

What was your first yoga class like?
My first yoga class was a hot yoga class – at the original Baptiste studio in Cambridge! My friend who had also quit her varsity sport in college (mine was downhill skiing) dragged me into it, saying "I just think you're going to really like this, Kate"… Boy, was she right!

What’s your favorite pose to teach?
I don't really have a favorite pose, per se, but the pose I teach most frequently and think is, overall, the most beneficial to the most people, is squatting – any form. If you want to live comfortably, squat.

As a practitioner, what pose makes you cringe?
If anything makes me cringe, I try to examine that relationship… So I have to admit, the poses I want to run away from are usually the ones that I start to turn toward. Those poses these days? Mayurasana, every day. And some of the poses that are a little bit more difficult after having children, like deep twists :-)

Where can we find you when you’re off your mat?
With my two sons, teaching meditation, baking, and when I feel like I have leisure time, hanging out with my chickens. 

What’s your favorite or the most random song on your class playlist right now?
I don't really use playlists anymore since I mostly trying to use instrumental music or kirtan my classes… But the music that I play most often with my children is either kirtan or reggae – every song when my son asks what it's about, the answer is the same: God.

The Physiology of Yoga

The Yoga Detox - What is Real and What is Garbage?

Many come to yoga after an indulgent weekend (or week, or year) as a way to detoxify the body. Studios even advertise classes specifically designed for this purpose, such as “Weekend Detox Flow.” Hot yoga has gained popularity for many reasons, one of the biggest of which is because it is seen as a way to sweat out impurities from the body. But how exactly does yoga aid in the detoxification process? Do you still need to detox if you have been practicing healthy habits? Does yoga really make that much of a difference, or can we choose another activity to “sweat it out?” While other forms of exercise have the ability to provide detoxification, yoga incorporates specific practices that target several of the body’s systems to restore more harmonious circulation throughout the body.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 3.08.34 PM
One of the detoxification systems most impacted by yoga is the lymphatic system. Sometimes known as the second circulation, the lymphatic system is a series of vessels that runs throughout the entire body, exchanging fluid with the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins) through the interstitial fluid between the cells of tissues. The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels can be visualized as two semi-parallel circuits that run throughout the body, interacting at specific points in capillary beds. The fluid inside the lymphatic vessels (the lymph) is boosted and cleaned at specific sites in the lymphatic system, known as lymph nodes (located in areas such as the armpits, groin, and neck). These nodes contain a high concentration of immune cells that help destroy pathogens and break down waste. Unlike our circulatory system, which utilizes the heart as a pump to maintain continuous blood flow, the lymphatic system does not have a central pump. Instead, it relies on periodic muscular contraction, hydrostatic pressure (pressure differences created by fluid imbalances), and movement to encourage lymphatic flow. Because of this design, yoga can be very beneficial, acting as a pump for the lymphatic system. Postures like inversions can help return lymph from the legs to the central body; postures that photorequire heart opening can open up movement around the lymph nodes of the armpit and neck; and postures such as garudasana (eagle) and ardha kapotasana (pigeon) induce hydrostatic pressure changes in the groin (and armpit, in the case of garudasana), encouraging a surge of lymph flow following the release of the pose.

Yoga also aids in the detoxification process by changing the structure of the fascia. Specifically, Yin yoga aids in this type of detoxification. As discussed in a previous post, our lifestyle patterns (both sedentary and active) can induce structural and chemical changes in the fascia, resulting in fascia that becomes shortened and excessively cross-linked. Within this matrix, metabolic wastes can become trapped in the fibrous cells of the connective tissue, creating a dam against the free flow of nutrients and waste. When we practice Yin yoga, we begin to break down that dam, allowing waste from the surrounding muscle to exit, and fresh nutrients to flow in. Unhindered flow is important for everyone, but especially for those with an active yang practice. During exercise, waste such as lactic acid and harmful free radicals can build up. If we do not take the necessary time to release the fascia surrounding the muscles that were just worked, all of the waste from exercise will not be properly cleared. Acutely, this type of build-up can lead to minor problems like muscle soreness. Chronically, the build up of free radicals can have severe damaging effects on cells and can even ultimately lead to disease.

colonThe digestive system is probably the most obviously affected detoxification system in yoga. Besides the effects of deep breathing on digestion (which will be discussed in a future post), certain yoga postures are structured to help promote the digestive process. Most twisting postures provide a gentle “wringing out” of the digestive organs by placing gentle pressure on the small intestine and colon. Postures such as pavanamuktasana and apanasana (the aptly named wind removing pose) provide a similar stimulation and can be utilized most effectively when practiced in an order that follows natural digestion. Since the natural flow of the colon starts at the lower right abdomen, ascends up the right side of the body, crosses horizontally to the left side of the body, and then descends down the left side of the body, these postures should be practiced from right to left photo-2(pavanamuktasana on the right, apanasana then pavanamuktasana on the left).

While yoga has many detoxification properties, an important thing to note is what is not actually happening in some postures. A simple Google search for “yoga detox” will yield countless articles claiming a myriad of benefits, none of which are based on how physiological processes occur. One such claim commonly voiced during twisting postures is that twists will massage the liver, helping to boost the body’s natural detoxification system. While the liver is responsible for cleaning the blood of impurities, there is no evidence that mechanical pressure on the liver induces such changes. While yoga and other types of exercise can increase blood flow, which can help speed up the liver’s filtering process, claims that massaging the liver (or other visceral organs, such as the spleen or gallbladder) will help cleanse the body are unfounded. Practices that increase heart rate and blood flow will aid in detoxification on a far greater scale.

So what does all of this mean on a personal level? Should we rely on yoga to help detoxify the body? Yes and no. Certain yoga practices can help boost the body’s natural detoxification systems, such as the lymphatic and digestive system. Yin-style practices can help release metabolic byproducts and waste, which can become trapped in the fascia. These types of practices are beneficial for everyone, whether you have been eating clean, nutritious foods or you are coming off a weekend of debauchery. However, other types of cardiovascular exercise that increase heart rate and blood flow should not be forgotten. These types of practices have the ability to induce changes that a yoga practice cannot. To detoxify the physical body, the best bet is to incorporate several styles of yoga, as well as regular cardiovascular exercise. As in all aspects of life, everything comes down to balance. Lightness and stability in the physical body are cultivated through grounding and balancing all of the physiological systems.

For more information on the author, Jessica Pate, or to access her other articles, visit her site HERE

Yogi of the Month: Sam Whyte

Name? Sam WhyteIMG_1214_copy1

Fun Fact? I can speak with a pretty convincing Scottish accent.

Favorite pose? Vrkasana (Tree pose). I think it's because it seems to have roots and wings.

When not on the mat? Walking my dog at the reservoir, hanging with my teenage daughters, looking for singing opportunities, discussing saving the planet with my husband.

How long have you been practicing? This month is my first year anniversary of regular practice.

Latest yoga break through? A particularly strong, lovely feeling chaturanga dandasana. The teacher called it "pristine."

How has yoga impacted your life? Yoga provides a path to move through physical challenges, which of course I can't do without addressing their emotional components. Practice is teaching me to listen to my body and honor myself wherever I am in the present moment. Yoga has also brought me to this amazing community that is CCY and continues to be a place of wisdom, generosity, love, laughter, and great compassion.

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